Whether we like it or not, poor attitudinal problem both in the public and private sectors is capable of endangering lives of patients. This narrative seems to be on the rise since advent of covid-19. We all need to remember that the pandemic is affecting everyone directly or indirectly in all aspect of life. In 2017, Good Health Weekly recorded that healthcare providers at all levels are guilty of negative attitude, even at the slightest provocation. The patient is central to health policy but large number of health workers forget that human relationship is uttermost in healthcare service delivery.
Unfortunately these days, going to a health facility, whether a dying patient in need of emergency room, routine doctor’s appointment, a laboratory test, or any appointment for that matter, the negative attitude seems to have become a way of life, doing more harm than good to the health sector. The lack of hospitality towards patients both in public and private facilities has been confirmed by a systematic review of the performance of private and public healthcare systems.
Today, the social media has given voice to people who have been wronged by this injustice in the health sector. In 2017, a 26-year-old pregnant woman reportedly lost her life at a Federal Teaching Hospital in Abuja apparently due to the negligent attitude of health workers at the health institution. She was said to have fallen off a theatre table during labour, sustaining head injuries in the process. Under normal circumstances, a pregnant woman undergoing labour ought not to fall off a theatre table. In April 2021, a University of Benin Teaching Hospital Surgeon was banned from practicing medicine for life by the Medical and Dental Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal after he failed to carry out an x-ray before amputating his patient’s leg. Also, a high ranked military officer whose wife is a well-respected Anaesthetics Obstetrician lost his life due to the highhandedness of a CMD in a private health institution in Abuja. We should ask ourselves, how long would this go on before we have had enough?
Health workers are partly responsible for the decay in the healthcare system. How? In more civilized countries, healthcare delivery is likened to humanitarian service. Health Professionals believe that carrying out their duties is a high calling. But in some African countries, HCWs look at it as doing a favour to people. While some believe that the government’s failures to provide good working conditions are responsible for HCWs attitudinal behaviours, others believe that shortages of healthcare professionals are responsible. Records show that on the average, in public hospitals, one doctor may attend to about 200 patients. Most of the facilities are often overstretched as a result of the overwhelming crowd that requires medical services from those facilities.
There is need for all HCWs to know at all times that Client-centred care, and Patient Safety should be their focus in order to increase utilization. Respective professional Associations and regulatory bodies of HCWs needs to look into re-orientating and providing more continuous professional development programs for HCWs to achieve higher level of competence.
Much of the work also lies with the govt. They should understand that depriving HCWs of better conditions of service seems to only puts Nigerians on the forefront to continue suffering and dying. To build safety competencies amongst health workers, safe working environment for health workers at all levels of care must be provided. Govt. should also see that they support the development and implementation of global health policies and strategies.