Nigeria’s Health Ministry and How It Manipulates Citizens To Make Money
Strong indications have emerged on how some cabals in the Nigerian health ministry are manipulating the citizens to fulfill their monetary desires.
Special findings by our investigative correspondent have found that some cabals in the ministry deliberately worked to approve drugs and medical test equipment that will not eradicate some diseases thereby pruning the citizens to spend more money at the expense of their health and lives.
Stakeholders in Nigerian health sector have been apprehensive about the situation which has brought about some question been asked about some diseases; such as malaria and typhoid, which seems to be incurable.
Among questions raised by them include: why is the Nigerian government yet to tackle medical cases like other developed nations? Don’t these countries have slums or poorly developed areas like the rest of the world? Don’t they have vegetative areas where insects and animals of all sorts thrive?
Concerns on Typhoid and malpractices of the health ministry
Typhoid fever has become a big issue in Nigeria with several Nigerians that have spent a lot to fight the bacteria, but yet no tangible result.
Findings by our correspondent revealed that the situation is biting harder because, Instead of adequate tests that will aid proper treatment, most patients with this sickness are being subjected to the usual Rapid Diagnostic Tests carried out in many exorbitant laboratories that give instant results. And this is due to manipulation by some members of health ministry.
Although the Rapid Diagnostic Tests are fast and accurately decipher if the patient was infected or not, findings have revealed that the test was deliberately approved by the health ministry to aid sales of interesting drugs at the expense of the patients’ lives.
According to findings from health experts, the adequate test is Laboratory Based Quantitative Tests.
Investigations have also revealed that Nigerians have seemingly been deceived in the name of healthcare by cabals in health ministry who keep smiling to the bank upon the success of their shoddy business. The government (special reference to policymakers) and Pharmaceutical Industries control the wheels and have intelligently led many to an early grave.
The development has subjected most Nigerians to suffer from one or more disease(s) due to improper diagnosis through the usage of moribund diagnostic tools. This has led to the loss of lives and financial challenges among affected family members.
Investigations have had it that the Nigerian government claims to have the interest of her citizens at heart and have worked in the light of this but, It may be of interest that rather than implement policies that would reflect the above, there seems to be more to the story.
With the current economic downturn and the partial escape from inflation, the rule of gravity doesn’t apply to the Nigerian economy. Even though economists have stated that the gradual end of the recession, the prices of commodities especially pharmaceuticals have skyrocketed and have refused to obey the g-force.
Doctors express worry over the situation
The development had made doctors across the country in their different factions organised meetings where they publicly expressed their dissatisfaction and frustration over the rising cases of typhoid related deaths. According to their observations, it doesn’t seem to be a cure for this illness.
But findings from sources in the ministry of health have revealed that some cabals in the ministry have put in place some policies to make it difficult for proper testing and diagnosis. And this had made Nigerians keep fattening the accounts of big pharmaceutical industries that give them returns.
“Let me tell you, some of our people who did not have love of the citizens at heart. They are doing everything possible to ensure that cure to some illnesses, including Typhoid are not found so that more money can go into their accounts. For instance, whenever people buy multiple packs of expensive drugs like Augmentin and Ciprofloxacin tablets all in the name of fighting Typhoid, the more they buy, the more money the government and the pharmaceutical industries make a profit and by extension, the more innocent Nigerians suffer to meet a dead end. By the time the individuals are rushed to the hospital and proper samples (stool and blood) are collected it would have been too late”, a staff of the ministry said.
Further findings have also revealed that proper quantitative tests that are supposed to assist the clinician in prescribing the choice of drugs for the treatment of the infection have been made difficult by major stakeholders to thrive. They replaced proper diagnosis with do it yourself (DIY) techniques.
The DIY system is like a pregnancy test. “Your HCG strip tells you if you are pregnant or not (even though it errs in some cases) but it doesn’t tell you how far gone you are into the pregnancy. Such is the same with the Rapid Diagnostic tests aka DIY tests. It is common knowledge that you don’t send an apprentice to do a professional’s job because this apprentice is not knowledgeable enough to carry out such tasks. Unfortunately, that is the case in Nigeria today”, a health expert, Funmi Okusanya said.
According to Okusanya, “Let’s break it down properly. With Typhoid as a case study, Salmonella typhi, the causative agent, is most frequently isolated from blood during the course of illness but can also be isolated during the first week of antimicrobial therapy and during clinical relapse. Isolation of Salmonella typhi from bone marrow is the current gold standard method for confirming a case of typhoid fever. However, it is not always available and when it is, it takes 2 to 3 days. As a result, diagnosis may be delayed or overlooked and patients without typhoid fever may receive unnecessary and inappropriate antimicrobial treatment. For this reason, in developing countries, typhoid culture and sensitivity tests can facilitate diagnosis and disease management as well as prevent drug residue. So why isn’t such encouraged in Nigeria?”
She also added “To ‘culture’ means to discover (isolate to species level) germs (such as bacteria or a fungus) that can cause an infection. A ‘sensitivity’ test checks to see what kind of medicine, such as an antibiotic, will work best to treat the illness or infection. Unfortunately, the Rapid diagnostic tests that are run in many labs and private hospitals today don’t give such detailed information rather it detects the Salmonella toxin in the blood and automatically reads positive for Typhoid”.
How health ministry ignored qualified people (Microbiologists)
Findings have also revealed that corruption in Nigerian health ministry has led to the situation where qualified scientists and certified clinicians who studied Microbiology and know the nitty-gritty of proper testing and diagnosis are not licensed to practice.
Microbiology as a field is vast but as it is, in Nigeria one of the most lucrative areas of specialisation in this field where jobs are available is the medical aspect.
Though, the area of testing and proper diagnosis is the major area of specialisation for those in this field of microbiology. Unfortunately, the only thing standing in the way of Nigerians having access to standard health care is the government.
Presently, these qualified individuals are yet to be granted the licence to practice fully and give Nigerians what they truly deserve proper healthcare; rather unqualified persons with contacts in government are being given the licence to replace them.
With the alarming and worrisome rate of antibiotic resistance among bacteria, one would wonder why the policymakers and the ministry of health have not deemed it necessary to implement the use of proper quantitative analysis in detecting the cause of Typhoid down to species level, a technique that only certified Microbiologists can carry out.
Investigations have revealed that rather than endorsing quality healthcare, the cabals in health ministry settled for less so they can smile to the bank at the detriment of the lives of millions.
This development has enhanced various pharmaceutical companies in the country to make billions of naira in the sale of different brands of antibiotics imported into the country at ridiculous prices with nothing that is being done about it.
“When you run the common typhoid DIY tests that are mostly run by unqualified individuals, you must test positive because even though the causative organism, Salmonella is in your gut, the toxins are what is found in your blood except in rare cases of bacteremia. When such tests read positive, you are then given antibiotics that may not necessarily affect the species of the organism itself that is responsible for depositing toxins in the blood.
Eventually, you keep taking heavy doses of antibiotics that won’t make the bacteria go away because it has little or no effect on it. More money is spent on treatment, these fancy laboratories and clinics make money and the big stakeholders, the pharmaceutical industries, and the government, smile to the bank and Nigerians are left to suffer” A senior lecturer at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Wale Akinyemi said.
He further opined that “It is common knowledge that most antibiotics have failed to tackle this bacteria and one would wonder why. Constant exposure of the bacteria to certain antibiotics overtime led to a generation of bacteria that were not only resistant but developed resistant genes that make them indestructible. In simple English, for every time you take an antibiotic that Salmonella isn’t sensitive to, the bacteria over time generates mutant genes that make it difficult for the active ingredients in the drug to function accordingly.
Now you see the very essence of proper quantitative analysis in standard laboratories and by quantitative analysis I mean Culture and sensitivity that can be done when the right samples (stool preferably) is examined by qualified and trained scientists. When this is done, it not only reduces the likelihood of being re-infected, it also helps in drug prescription that will effectively clear this bacteria and reduce drug residues accumulated from swallowing too many pills.
Unfortunately, this is not the case today. The health ministry has not helped qualified scientists to practise their profession which proffers proper quantitative analysis that can help millions of Nigerians rather, Laboratory scientists were endorsed. Most of these lab scientists know little or nothing about ‘culture’ and ‘sensitivity’ and have embraced the use of Rapid diagnostic tools to detect bacterial infection to make work easier and lighter.”
Findings at the health ministry revealed that most of the unqualified laboratory proprietors paved their way through the back door with a huge amount of money like N50m to get approval. An at the ministry headquarters in Abuja revealed that the deal is mostly facilitated by the people in government who want their relatives who are not yet qualified to run the laboratories. And this is done to the detriment of common citizens whose lives are exposed to risk in the hand of the incompetent practitioners.
“You will agree with me that a lot of things are not normal in this country even under this administration. Despite the noise on the fight against corruption, a lot of the politicians usually bring their people here to obtain a license to run these laboratories you talk about knowing that they are not competent and some of them do not have the requested facilities”, A source in the ministry who preferred anonymity told our correspondent.
Speaking on the development, a chief medical laboratory officer at one of the General Hospitals in the country, Otti Roslyn, said malpractices which are now the order of the day in health ministry is putting citizens’ lives at risk.
“Did you know, that Salmonella could be absent in your body even though the toxins are there? This is the major premise on which these rapid tests are run and then you end up taking medication for what isn’t even in your blood. For this reason, stool samples are ideal for proper testing and diagnosis of Typhoid. In addition to this, you could be taking an antibiotic that clears only certain species of the bacteria when you are infected with entirely different species that is completely resistant to it and the species of this organism can only be discovered via culture and sensitivity which apparently isn’t done in most clinical labs today. Now you do the math!”, Otti said.
In addition to this serious lag, since unqualified individuals are given licence to practise, the setup and proliferation of diagnostic labs run by these individuals have increased. Laboratories are now situated in inappropriate places all over the country.
Further investigation at Nigerian Biological Safety Association revealed that most of the private diagnostic labs in Kano state are located at the heart of commercial buildings and residential areas. The laboratories use the same community sewers to discharge their effluents (Live pathogenic organisms) thereby putting residents of these areas at risk of being reinfected.
It was further gathered that the worse situation looms because there are no regulations to put them in check or no government body to enforce them. And the end result is disaster as major residents are left with no option than to run DIY tests in the same labs, get misdiagnosed, spend money on expensive medication as the case may be, get re-infected and then accumulate drug residue because laboratories attendants lack proper adequate training and knowledge on how to dispose live organisms and the cycle continues.
“It is bad enough to know that in Nigeria, nothing really works including the health sector. Little wonder why people in top government seek medical attention outside the shores of the country knowing fully that they have made a mess of their homeland. In developed countries, cases of Typhoid are treated as strange while the reverse is the case here in Nigeria. While proper health care practices are endorsed to ease the burden and better the lives of citizens in developed countries, Nigerians are left to deal with the serious lag in the healthcare sector that facilitates the decline in progressive healthcare and development. This can easily be averted”, abroad based medical doctor, Bola Badiora explained.
She added that “Why won’t professionals be given licence to practice? Why has the government turned a blind eye to the ailing Nigerians? Why is the government quiet about the irregularities in the health sector? Why won’t Nigerians be given access to proper healthcare? Why should Nigerians pay the ultimate price? Why should industries thrive to the detriment of millions of lives? So many questions unanswered. It’s about time Nigerians know the truth, take a stand and question those in authority who have by all means made life unbearable for everyone.”
The Nigerian Ministry of Health did not respond to an email sent to them for inquiry over the allegations against them. Equally, calls to their various phone contacts also received no response.