A man, who presented himself as a medical doctor and employed by the federal ministry of health for nine years, was recently paraded before the public as a fake doctor. By his own confession, he actually stole the medical certificates of a friend and used it to secure a job where he even made decisions on national health issues and even got himself elected as chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, federal ministry of Health chapter.
The rising incidence of fake professionals in different aspects of national life, such as security, law medicine, clergy etc. is not only worrisome but points to a fundamental dysfunction in the system. As a nation we have sacrificed competence and performance for certification which has created such a craze and inordinate desire for it above everything else as possession of any paper certificate is a passport to wealth if you are well connected.
In our society today everybody worships wealth and money and it does not matter how it is acquired – it is the end that justifies the means. Many students seek and get university admissions with fake results because they want to have degree, which will guarantee them high standard of living. Robbers invade banks and kill police men because they want an overnight wealth. Our nation is gradually but steadily breaking down because of our obsession with wealth.
For a man who is not trained as medical doctor to conveniently and confidently present himself as one is the height of this moral atrophy and decadence given the fact that medicine deals with human life. It is a very important profession in terms of life and death and anybody wearing the stethoscope should have sworn the Hippocratic Oath that bounds practitioners to the moral obligation of saving lives. It is therefore unconscionable for a human being to assume such a responsibility without its obligation.
There was a clear system failure in the whole issue as well as possible high level connivance by some other persons in both the NMA and the ministry of health to perpetrate this dastardly heinous act. Medical doctors are required by law to obtain recertification every year to their practice. Unless public service doctors are exempted from this regulation it is inexplicable that both his employers and the NMA failed to dictate the problem for so long.
In fact the Medical and Dental Registration Council of Nigeria, MDRCN, which is the regulatory body, has become a mere money making venture where you are just required to pay your annual registration fee and walk away. Proper due diligence are no longer part of the process and this has led to gaps which are being exploited by unscrupulous persons. There is therefore, need for proper documentation and verification information filed with the council to ensure that only those deserving of registration pass through. The high mortality rate in medical services in the country may not be unconnected with the corresponding high level of quackery in the profession.
The police should do a thorough and proper investigation of this matter to determine not only how this happened but to also fish out the likely collaborators, who have benefitted in the scheme of death. It is instructive that officials of the ministry perceived that something was wrong because of his ‘ignorant arguments’ and yet did nothing. This may point to some kind of protection provided by a high authority. Ordinarily, the system ought to have dictated it and fish him out before any incalculable damaged was done. But this did not happen.
It is also a clarion call to the NMA and the MDRCN to put its house in order and reassess it processes of registration and recertification of their members to guard against this unfortunate development. As professional bodies, they should be alarmed at the growing rate of complaints of malpractice against members leading to untimely but preventable deaths. Life has no duplicate and although they have a license over life and death, morality demands they must at all times and in whatever situation commit to the preservation of life.
Reports are common of where doctors reject patience, especially accident and emergency cases, and allow such people to die because they were not able to deposit some stipulated amount of money. There is need for government to institute a health insurance scheme such cases can receive reimbursements because a life saved is more any amount of money.