I do not know this young man but I watched an AIT news clip recently, where help was being sought for him to get treatment overseas. This made me feel that there is still so much we do not care about in our country Nigeria especially as it concerns life. This young man's plight has continued to be aired on AIT news for the last couple of weeks.
I understand his problem is that he has end stage kidney disease and will require renal transplant to save him. I was so moved when I saw his father shedding tears on the news clip. What is however interesting to me is the acknowledgement of the fact that this young man is a typical Nigerian who exemplifies what the poor and down throden go through when ill despite all the funds voted for tertiary health care in the country. His plight is the result of a failed health system or possibly an absent health system.
It is true that all fingers are not equal and every body cannot get the same treatment when ill. However, at least our health service should be such that conditions like renal failure are well managed in the government hospitals. There should be no reason why Somto's doctors should come on air explaining the rational for the help of Nigerians. There should have been an appropriate referral system in place. Who knows how many Somtos are in the country. If this young man were to be a politician he would have been flown abroad ever since.
We all know that Nigerian politicians and those well connected people have been wasting our funds travelling around the globe for check ups that could be done in Nigeria. The poor and sick people are however left suffering and dying from conditions that could be treated to prolong their lives. I understand that some state governors like Rotimi Amaechi have put a stop to sponsoring overseas treatment. This is commendable and should be encouraged all over the country. But because our health system is so poor, it however requires that the few medical treatments that trully require overeseas help could now be scrutinized appropriately and help offered where neccessary.
I would imagine that Somto Amah the boy in question comes from a Local Government, a senatorial zone and a state. I believe his father and mother voted for a legislator to represent them in the aforementioned categories. So what are the representatives doing? Couldn't his legislators see this service as a constituency project? Or is it because there will be nothing in return for them? Why do we have to let the poor cry so much before help comes to them? If those of us outside the country see the news, I wonder what people inside will say?
It is evident from the many unwarranted deaths that we do not have value for life. As such, I would think that the life of this young man is not important to his local government, state or the country. Many young people die from violent related incidents. Incidents such as religious and sectarian riots, criminal activities involving use of guns, election related violence, as well as militancy. But this should not be the case. Every life is important.
I saw on a television station where a pastor was commanding Yar'Adua to rise and walk and I wondered whether the same pastor did not see the news clip about Somto. Or is this a case of spiritual health for the rich and powerful only? I was wondering why our television pastors while carrying out healing service for our president forgot other Nigerians that are ill. Our President I understand is an ardent believer of the principles taught by the late Aminu Kano of the People's Redemption Party fame. This means that looking after the poor or less privileged (the Talakawas) was a key principle he would have believed in. So where are all the people who are shouting that they believe in Yar'Adua? Or do they only believe in the pecuniary benefits that can accrue to them in their association with the man?
I think the time has come when as a people; we should value human life in Nigeria by doing the things that will save lives. This is what happens in the countries we go to waste our monies for unneccessary health jamboree. I would not want to be crucified that I am comparing the developed world to Nigeria, but in the United Kingdom, even the life of a dog or cat is important and well protected by laws and services are made available to look after such animals. That is how important life is valued and how they see a life.
As a country that will be fifty years post independence this 2010, I believe there is so much to be desired with our attitude to human life. We have paid so much lip service to the needs of the population. I do remember vision 2010 and know that health was one of the key issues entrenched to be achieved. We are in 2010; I wonder what has come out of it. We can all guess. We are now again talking about another vision 20:20:20 and no body knows what will be the outcome because of our inherent lack of vision. My concern is that a country that does not value the health and lives of her citizens be they poor or rich does not have a vision at all no matter what name it calls its plan.
Somto and his likes show the need for a strong welfare system which is lacking in Nigeria. We are still waiting for the outcome of Yakubu Gowon committee's report on an integrated social welfare system for the country. In the mean time, I do hope Somto's state governor, local government chairman and or legislators will rise up to the occasion and help this young man. For who knows what he will become in future.