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Flooding More “Corrupt Doctors ” into Cameroonian Hospitals

The Minster of Public Health, Engineer Mama Fouda, recently authorized and distributed all over the Nation, hundreds of recent graduates from the Faculties of Medicine in the name of posting decisions. These young physicians represent the most intelligent and ambitious Cameroonians who have dedicated at least 21 years of their lives to intense studies under deplorable conditions, and have now been certified and sworn into the order of medicine.

They are judged able of practicing medicine with minimal supervision and have been posted all over the nation with the mission to deliver quality services to Cameroonians. We hope their individual and collective contributions would be capital to improving the disastrous health indicators of our Nation. While many erroneously see this as part of a solution to the alarming patient doctor ratio in Cameroon, it also raises the question of flooding the already heavily corrupt health sector with more doctors who have unofficially been instructed to practice corruption for survival.

Following the postings, the new Doctors are expected to take up duty posts within two weeks. Some have been posted to areas they can barely locate on a map, thousands of miles away from their homes.  They have no franc of their own and yet are urged to shamefully throw away the dignity and pride attached to their hard-earned titles and beg for transportation fares from their parents. They also have no means of subsistence or accommodation though they are all expected to relocate in one way or the other within the national territory. Worst of it, they have to wait for at least two years, before they can be offered a dime as salary.

Ladies and gentlemen, is it possible for any person to work for two years without compensation and yet is expected to abide by the stringent ethical and professional standards required? Can a hungry doctor treat a sick patient? Can a hungry doctor stay faithful to his duty post? Can a hungry doctor abide by the Hippocratic oath? Paradoxically, many do survive this long wait and go on to receive their salaries in retrospect and carry on with live. I salute their courage and their determination to thrive in the face of adversity. But how do they survive this?

But for those whose parents are super-rich and certainly those that eat fat from the rottenness of the system, no doctor can survive this ordeal without resorting to shameful practices: Stealing from the very patients they have been assigned to relief of their sufferings. This happens in different ways from preferential treatment offered to those willing to pay more, performing illegal acts such as abortions, requesting for unjustified procedures to be done in private laboratories around town in return for a commission from these laboratories, teaching science classes in high schools in their neighborhoods instead of treating patients, conducting unjustified procedures and surgeries, etc. These are all abominable acts and punishable by the existing laws. However, these may be justified when the next best alternative is death from poverty. No doubt a good number find their way out by abandoning their duty posts to relocate abroad where excellence and hard work is recognized and valued.

But why should it take this long for doctors to receive their first salary? Do we lack funds? Maybe the lack of funds is a possible reason but I cannot be convinced by this. Recently, thieves are reported to have stolen close to 600 million FCFA (about 1 million US Dollars) from the home of the Public Health Boss. What on earth could an individual be doing with such huge sums of moneys at home? Does he have a personal bank operating in his house? If such an amount could be taken from him in a single night, I can only imagine how much he has in his bank accounts.  This amount of money is enough to pay all the recently posted doctors for at least one year and yet he chose to keep all of it in his house for lunch and supper while doctors languish in abject poverty.  It’s sickening when some of my colleagues sit and get stressedby not being able to pay for their house rent at the end of the month? Really!!!!!!!!

Enough of this trash! Physicians should say no to postings without transportation allowance, without provisions for accommodation and request for immediate salary payments beginning at the end of the first month of service. We cannot train doctors to be corrupt during the integrationprocess and years later we pretend to want to see them no longer corrupt. We have the necessary resources and but for lack of leadership, incompetency, poor planning, embezzlement and stealing of public funds, etc., we are able to provide our young physicians with the welcoming and nurturing environment to help them better perform as ethically and professionally sound physicians. It’s our duty to stand up today, defy the odds and challenge the status quo, thereby creating a better tomorrow for the next generations.

 

By Chobufo Ditah, MD MPH

Public Health Specialist/Statistician/Epidemiologist

Chief Medical Officer – CMA Njinikom

Cameroon.

Dr. Chobufo Ditah, is a seasoned Public Health Specialist with degrees from the prestigious Faculties of Medicine, University of Yaoundé I-Cameroon (MD), and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel (MPH). He is currently the Chief Medical Officer at CMA-Njinikom. Despite the challenges faced by the health sector in Cameroon, Dr. Chobufo is committed to providing the highest quality of care to Cameroonians with the limited resources, placing special emphasis on mass prevention. He has gained extensive experience working in several African Countries (South Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad) executing missions with Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). He has a huge exposure to and mastery of health systems around the globe including several African Countries, China, USA and Israel. He looks forward to designing a health system that works in Cameroon by piecing together the best concepts from these different systems.  He is also passionate about universal health coverage and having seen his clients suffer the direct consequences of out of pocket payment for health services, he’s committed to the fight for universal healthcare coverage for all Cameroonians. He strongly holds that the major barrier to attaining universal health care coverage in Cameroon is the lack of political will and strong government policies as and not the lack of finances as many Cameroonians have been erroneously led to believe.