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Tuesday, 25 September 2007


Benjamin was a 16 year old SS 2 student who lived with his parents in a local community in Delta State. On Thursday 23rd September, he had an Asthma attack in school. His friends and teachers managed to take him to a local clinic. It took them about 20 minutes to get him from school to the clinic. He went into coma before they got to the hospital. When they got there, the only doctor on duty said they had no drugs to give him, alternatively they tried various measures to no avail.

Benjamin stayed alive for 45 minutes before giving up the ghost.

The doctor, nurse, teacher, his friends from school and his mum watched while Benjamin took his last breath. They couldn't help him. No one could help him. He didn't have an inhaler, the clinic didn't have the drugs he needed. So they just watched...and he died.

Benjamin had wanted to live...he'd wanted to be a rapper...thats why he fought death for 45 minutes.

This sounds impossible to happen, but it did. In this day and age, someone died because there were no drugs available.

The most ironic part of it all is that Benjamin has an uncle who is a big doctor in the US.

It's sad right?

So my question is this: if you're a Nigerian doctor practising abroad, what do you think you can personally contribute to enhance health facilities in your local community?

If you're not a doctor, what do you think doctors should do, or what can you do to help the health sector in your local community?


Anonymous said...

This is really horrible. Stories like this infuriate me. My husband is a doctor also, but whatever the case, i can't understand why they didn't even have common inhaler in the hospital.
Also, asthmatic people should carry inhalers with them always.
Well, i don't know what else to say. *sigh*
May his soul rest in peace.

Omodudu said...

sad...gottalink to this..

Unknown said...

Hey Linda,
Its unfortunate to hear this story, I've heard different versions of it time and time again. The healthcare system and facilities are indeed deplorable in Nigeria.
I'm not a doctor but I've been friendly with several, and earlier this year I happened to attend an ANPA conference, and during the banquet, they talked about their medical missions they have done back in Nigeria. So a group of Nigerian doctors, sometimes with dentists, pharmacists, med students and public health professionals, do go home and offer free medical day for a few days to a few weeks at least once a year since 2007. They fund these medical missions themselves and I applaud them for it. However they seemed pretty frustrated with the resistance and red tape they met. From their reports it seemed as though certain government officials wanting to take credit for their goodwill set up red tape for them to actually help.

♥♫♪nyemoni♫♪♥ said...

Wow..sad, sad...didn't the school have like a sick bay to administer first aid? Sigh! Another life wasted because of incopetence of Nigerian authorities! How sad!


May God have mercy on Benjamin and may he forgive us all for we are all part of the problem.

I am not a doctor, but have spoken to African doctors that work for drug companies. They have tried on numerous occassions to provide drugs to various countries, FREE OF CHARGE, but to no avail.

The individuals organizing the project have been tod to come with money to settle everyone up and down the 'food chain'. Thus, many have given up their quest to make an impact and I cannot say that I blame them.

We as a people need to talk about these stories. We need to complain about them, we need to weep for the souls lost. Then, we need to get countries like the U.S. and Britain to refuse entry to our rulers, and their family members when they go abroad for health care like Yardy and Atiku did earlier this year. Our health care system is non existent in Nigeria and people who could someday have changed the world are getting caught in the failures.

Sorry for the rant. It's been a frustrating day!!!


PS: you, your readers, family members and friends should write a message to Nigeria by participating in the Speak Up Nigeria campaign.

Anonymous said...

I'm in medical school now and I live in Atl, Ga and it makes me very sad to hear this kind of story. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace. Asthma attacks can be deadly even for someone that lives here in America even with Ambulance services and all. I know of a young Yoruba guy who also died here in Atl of asthma attack, so it can happen anywhere. It's still very sad tho. Nigerians in general should invest in things like this instead of people like Mrs. Etteh channeling 628 million naira into renovating houses and ex president building gazilion rooms 5 star hotel, they should focus on providing good hospitals.

Toni Payne said...

are you kidding me? common inhaler that cost 500 naira at the chemist.. wow! I wont even upset myself tonight by getting into the healthcare system out there, doctors ignoring their code of ethics, having to pay before you even get looked at, all that and then some makes me wonder if human life even means anything to them

Anonymous said...

i think that the people of the community should rally together to force the govt to act, its as if the country doesn't have money. failing that nigerian doctors abroad should form committees where they raise money to help buy medical equipment and drugs, cause you and i both know looking for help from the govt doesn't always bear fruit. i live in london with trinidadian background, we have committees where we organise shows and events to raise money for medical equipment to send home. that is just an idea..

london said...

Sad story...I think everyone has echoed my thoughts. May his soul rest in peace!

Anonymous said...

Big Cudos for beaming on this story, unfortunately there are many more similar incidents happening daily in Africa (probably except certain priviledged areas in South Africa)

This is a truly tragic event and may God appease the victims family.
The eagle eyed would have spotted I used the word "victim" and there lies the crux of the issue in Nigeria.

Until we have accountability backed by sound Law imbibed in our society we will carry on having victims of this nature.

If it is a private hospital, the doctor should lose his license and the hospital should be penalized through the law courts.

Likewise if it is a Government hospital, then the Victims family should be able to sue for negligent and wrongful death.

If we had adequate systems, checks and balances in place, then this should never happen.

We are constantly shortchanging ourselves by killing our own beethoven, Ainstein, George Washington, Madame Teresa et all.

Where is the Giant of Africa when we can't even nurture our young.

I am aware of a lot of Nigerian Doctors plus well meaning aliens who are giving back to our society throughout the year via many great programs. But our Nations inept treatment of the health sector makes complete mockery of all that.

We need a voice, an independent personality that can rally the people against the everyday injustices to human life experienced in Nigeria.

A One million peaceful march in Abuja on this issue will not go unnoticed and send the right message to our leaders. But we are too timid and never stand up, it's our upbringing that's to blame, our orientation needs to change fast.


Meadows j. said...



Naijadude said...

Unfortunately for the boy! Even though its sad, we shld all know there are so many stories similiar to that left untold, this should be a wake up call to the government!

Anonymous said...

I'm a med student in the US, and have gone on medical mission trips to Naija, and like stated by the previous poster, the govt gave us too much wahala, and didnt contribute at all. We did everything out of pocket, ALL of us, and then the local nurses insulted us, they stole medications that we brought to use for surgeries even! Its sad, and also embarrassing because in addition to a few naija folks on the team, most were non Naija trying to help. Post surgery, we ask a nurse to come help us with a patient and she snaps back "cant you see I'm eating?"
I've been involved in multiple US orgs that go back to help out: surgeries, medications, treatments, but unless the govt takes an active stand nationally, there is only so much we, Nigerian medical professionals, can do. We can only keep doing what we are doing, the prob gets even worse in the village and town hospitals, where we went, I didnt see 1 functioning incubator...
I've been to many other government owned hospitals in west Africa, countries in which naija brags its better than (Giant of Africa ko), and we have a lot to learn, its the same prob with everything else, NO accountability.

Dee said...

Being a former asthma patient myself I totally feel the gravity of Benjamin’s death deeply. I was in Nigeria when I had all my near death attacks…and I had a number of them. I recall one of my emergency episodes in a hospital, I needed oxygen and the closest oxygen tank was empty. The hospital staff ran helter skelter and found another tank that eventually could not be opened cos the supplier didn’t send the right key!
My inhaler saved me that day, I had to use it continually until I could breath a bit better.
Thankfully I always had access to medical care. I had at least 2 inhalers with me always but I never understood how blessed I was until a fellow secondary school mate died having an attack (1993). It put the fear of God in me and that was when I understood how bad asthma was left untreated
That said, I know Nigerian Health care system. It’s only worse now. Fixing it would take a lot more than putting drugs in hospitals. It takes people, POLICIES AND POLITICS. You’ll be shocked to know that we have a lot more unemployed doctors in Nigeria than one can imagine, infrastructures we can’t maintain, medicines and equipments we can’t use. Sadly, it’s a systemic problem that can’t be fixed with just one bandage; it’s going to take a series of things. I’d say a lot more but I’d be writing a thesis rather than a comment.
Benjamin’s death is so unfortunate. May his soul rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

This is really sad, it break my heart to read a story like this.
The health minister should be consulted or the lacal government or something.
i don't know how it works in nigeria anyway as i resident in london, but something needs to be done about it.

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