Thought Leadership

Stella Obasanjo – Before we rejoice…

3 Mins read

The media was agog a few weeks ago with reports that a plastic surgeon in Spain was convicted of negligence in the death of Nigeria’s former first lady, and was given a suspended sentence of a year in jail

Stella Obasanjo, wife of then President Olusegun Obasanjo, died Oct. 23, 2005, two days after undergoing liposuction on her abdomen and other parts of her body at a clinic in the southern Spanish town of Marbella. A court in Malaga convicted plastic surgeon Antonio Mena Molina of negligent homicide. (a criminal charge brought against people who, through criminal negligence, allow others to die.) Mena was also barred from practicing medicine for three years and ordered to pay euro120,000 ($175,000) in damages to the former first ladies son. The judge said Mena Molina had shown “carelessness and neglect.”

The medical profession prides itself across the world for self regulation in the first instance. The case described above that has gone through the legal system is an extreme example. Another recent case in the UK that is leading to fundamental changes in how out-of-ours care is provided is the story of  a “German” doctor Dr Daniel Ubani who is reported to have given a patient 10 times too much painkiller while working for a Cambridgeshire health trust, as a locum out-of-hours general practitioner. It might have been a mistake – but he is paying a huge price, has a suspended sentence over his neck and almost irreparable loss of reputation. Many people think he got off lightly.

So what would be the consequences of medical malpractice in Nigeria?

Zilch… nothing. Many colleagues get away with murder.

We acknowledge the valiant work of Dr Shima Gyoh, during his time as Chairman, Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. Dr Gyoh tried to get the MDCN to make the doctors and dentists self regulate thier profession. We watched sessions on Network news where colleagues were brought to face up to their responibilities of accountability. We saw  the Registrar of MDCN; Dr. C. O. Ezeani, compulsorily retired. The MDCN needs to be supported and strenghthened. Meet the council members here.

But…not anymore.

You must have read about the murder of Bayo Ayanlola Ohu, who until his death was the  Assistant News Editor, Guardian Newspapers. What you might not have read is that Bayo was rushed to the family’s hospital located within the Akowonjo area in Lagos but was rejected and no treatment could be administered to him due to the apparent non-provision of a police report. (for non Nigerian readers – this refers to a report to say that the gunshot victim is himself not a robber!!!) The requirement for a police report before treatment is not part of the Nigerian constitution, and ofcourse breaks all our fundamental human rights. Even the Nigerian Police despite its legendary apathy has severally gone public to declare that this does not exist.
BUT THAT HOSPITAL REMAINS OPEN. You will not hear a whisper from the MDCN, nor from the Nigerian Medical Association. We all coil around in silence and pretend we are different. We are not. We are ALL guilty.
Even if there is such a ridiculous directive in place can our profession not stand up and say NO? Can we not inistst that we are bound by the vows we all make on graduation. By not treating a sick man in front of him, is this colleague not  guilty negligent homicide. For the rest of us that have taken similar vows, yet keep quiet in the wake of this incident, are we not all complicit in NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE?….

Well…we live in a country where there are no consequences for the paths of dishonour we chose…..sadly therefore,  no incentive to chose a path of intergrity….

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

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