Professional rivalry killing Nigeria’s healthcare system — Experts

Medical experts have blamed the abysmal state of Nigeria’s health care delivery system on unhealthy rivalry among health professionals with consequent incessant industrial disputes, saying, it has made it almost impossible to deliver patient-centred care in the country.

The experts who spoke during a virtual event to commemorate the 2021 International Pathology Day organised by the College of Nigerian Pathologists, Lagos State Chapter, called for urgent resolution of the crises especially now the country is faced with the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In his presentation entitled: “Panacea to Professional Rivalry in Nigerian Health Sector”, Immediate past President of the Nigerian medical association, NMA, Prof. Francis Adedayo Faduyile said rivalry has transpired primarily between medical doctors and other health professionals due to the tussle for leadership positions and wide disparity in salary structure among others.

READ ALSO: Mental Health Chat Room debuts in Vanguard

Faduyile,  a professor/ Consultant, Anatomic Pathologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital/ Lagos State University College of Medicine, stated that tribalism remained serious problem in the Nigerian health sector.

Other dimensions to rivalry in the health sector include: Doctors vs other Health Workers, Pathologists vs Laboratory Scientists, Radiologists vs Radiographers, and ophthalmologist Vs optometrists and others.

Faduyile said: “Conflict is not always inimical to organisational growth, however, in the health sector, it is mostly personality or relationship-related and negatively affect patient care.”

Maintaining that conflicts cause distortions of patient care outcome parameters both clinical and patient satisfaction, Faduyile said it leads to increased loss of lives;  increased morbidity and its complications, increased maternal and child mortality and patients who cannot afford private facility bills may end up dying.

He also stated that this crisis also affects professionals by reducing the dignity and respect for the profession, leads to poor public perception of medical personnel, unhappy doctors; reduced efficiency of human and material resources and unhealthy inter-and intra-health workers relationships.

“It also affects residents, especially in clinical departments; as they do not get to do enough procedures to meet the requirement of the various colleges in good time. 

Continuing, Faduyile pointed out that while in a regular strike, for example in the education sector, the opportunity exists for makeup, the contrary holds in the health sector; when a life is lost, no opportunity for makeup, and it could be anyone.

Stating that although the dividend of strikes following industrial dispute may have yielded improvement in salaries and emoluments, occasionally, infrastructural upgrading, Faduyile said crises within health workforce has been reported as the biggest constraint towards global health system development and sustenance, particularly in Africa.

Speaking, the Chairperson of the College of Nigerian Pathologists, Lagos State Chapter, Professor Fatimah Abdulkareem at the virtual event to commemorate the 2021 International Pathology Day said the theme for this year: “Professional Harmony in Nigerian Health Sector” was apt .

 “As asserted in 2016, by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, it is getting worse by the day and the patients are the ones suffering. It is therefore pertinent as leaders of the health team to lead the efforts at putting an end to it and encourage cooperation among healthcare workers for the benefit of the patients.”

The Chairman, Local Organising Committee, for the CNP Lagos’ International Pathology Day 2021, Dr S. O. Keshinro explained that the theme of the year was selected to address ‘Professional Harmony in Nigerian Health Sector’ as well as the seemingly systemic denigration of the graduate and postgraduate medical degrees and unending rivalries within and amongst medical, paramedical and even administrative personnel in the health sector.