I woke up on Monday morning and as usual put on my phone and started scrolling through the messages and saw three missed calls from Paul and a voice note. So I played the message “Audu, Audu Sir K just died in my car….they said he collapsed .. I went to pick them up in …the house and he died…”.
I was confused, thoughts swirled erratically in my head, my mind couldn’t comprehend what I had just heard and as I regained my thoughts. I repeated the words again to myself to be sure I heard right. And then I called Paul.. and he confirmed it to me amidst sobs. Sir K was truly dead!!!
I met Kunle Adelodun through Okeugo Paul about 17 years ago, that’s one of life’s ironies- the same person that introduced him to my life, was the same person that informed me of his exit from my life and the lives of many other beloved family and friends. We met around this period in 2001 in Abuja. Sir K was warm, loving kind hearted and funny as hell. Sir K though a few years older than us was a fiercely loyal friend and would go out on a limb for anyone he called a friend. Soon Sir K wasn’t Paul’s friend – he became my friend and brother! He was hardworking, industrious and a great son, brother, and father. He was as real as real gets and God had blessed him with 3 lovely children and a darling wife -Julie. Their relationship was envied by many of us- sincere, playful and loving at the same time. Another interesting side of Sir K was his love for Nigeria. I recall countless hours we spent debating government, politics, and leadership in the country. During the 2015 elections, we had heated debates about the forthcoming elections and though we held different views about issues that never got in the way of our friendship. Indeed one of the people I met in 2016 that re-energized my hope that pragmatic, intelligent and ethical leadership was possible in Nigeria was Kunle Lawal. He called me one day in 2016 and said to me “There’s a guy I think you need to meet. His name is Kunle Lawal and I think you and him have the same perspective and ideology about leadership in politics you guys should connect”. And connect we did. He was a fair man and fearless as well, for instance, though he was a staunch supporter of the APC but didn’t fail to call them out when he saw them take a wrong step. Being the patriot that he was we had high hopes that he would run for office in Kwara State in 2019. But God had a different plan.
On Sunday the 11th of March 2018, Kunle complained about feeling a little dizzy and went to the hospital. They checked his vitals and told him to come back the following day to see the medical doctor.The following day around 7 am in the morning he slumped. His wife tried to revive him with some first aid methods and rushed him to a nearby clinic. A friend alerted Paul Okeugo who lives in the Lekki area of the situation. When they arrived at the mini-clinic, Paul and his wife got him into the car started to attempt a trip to the Lagoon hospital in V.I but the notorious Lekki Ajah traffic was in full swing and they realized they wouldn’t be able to make it through the slow moving traffic. So they decided to go to the nearest hospital around there because it was clear they wouldn’t be able to make it in time. The first hospital rejected them and refused to treat him, same thing with the second one and it was the third hospital that finally agreed and even at that they just came to the car, looked at him and pronounced him dead.
As far as we know, Sir K wasn’t dead at the time he was placed in the car, he died sometime between the trips to the 3 hospitals and this was in a space of over 2 hours- if he had been able to receive medical attention, who knows, he may have survived.
A SYSTEM THAT KILLS
But you see, Sir K is a victim of a failed system that has been part and parcel of our country for over 58 years. What the hell happened to the Hippocratic oath? What the hell happened to the directive that hospitals must treat all patients even those with gunshot wounds before asking about money etc? Lets even ask more basic questions. How many of those hospitals actually had properly trained personnel to take care of such emergency situations? How many emergency clinics do we have in Lekki? In Lagos? How many Ambulances do we have in Lagos or across the country? My friends called the police and ambulances lines- one didn’t go through, the other didn’t have any available vehicles. Now even if they did, how would they have been able to navigate through the insanely dense traffic? How? Can you imagine how many more people have died like this? And how many more could possibly go as well if nothing is done to stem this animalistic, inhumane and senseless behaviour?
MANY LOVED ONES HAVE GONE….
Let me share some really deep personal experiences. My mother died in 1996 from a car accident. She was in a coma for 3 days and the hospital – Barau Dikko Hospital, Kaduna (one of the best at the time) – didn’t know what to do with her. They didn’t have the necessary equipment to monitor her vitals, there was barely one doctor available on the evening shifts and he was clearly overstretched. The alternative was 44 Hospital in Kaduna and then the next issue was the logistics around relocating her. She died on the 4th days. If we had a sensible healthcare system, who knows, I would probably have been celebrating Mothers Day with her and not reminiscing over a picture.
One of the key people instrumental in making Chocolate City happen was a guy called Dapo Arogundade. He was one of the most fantastic human beings I’ve ever met. He lived for show business and was the life of any event. Dapo played an instrumental role in managing Jeremiah Gyang, MI, and Djinee during their emerging years. He was involved in a car crash in Abuja in 2006 and he was rushed to the National Hospital, Abuja. He was still breathing when he was admitted, the doctors or nurses on call didn’t know what to do and instead of reviving him, gave him a drug to relax him as he was struggling to regain consciousness. He died a few hours later. Dapo would probably have been a major force in the media and entertainment world today.
My baby cousin Alheri Maikori was driving home from Kado area to Life camp in September 2016, when she hit some sand/gravel that was wrongly dumped alongside the expressway. Her car skidded off and she crashed into the road median. She was rushed to the hospital by some passersby. She was still alive when she reached the hospital. After she was reluctantly admitted, the medical staff were in disarray and scrambled around in the absence of a proper doctor to administer the proper medical attention. She died later that day. She had just started a promising job after completing her NYSC the year before. Nigeria lost a brilliant software engineer.
And now this!
Our country isn’t working well – it never has. But it’s gotten worse progressively over the years! What are we working for when our money can’t even guarantee us decent medical attention when we or a loved one falls sick? How many of our heroes have died due to negligence and a system that doesn’t care about human lives? How long will this go on? I have recounted just a few of my personal experiences of medical neglect since 1996! I am sure you all have your horror stories of how lack of urgent medical attention and in some instances how either lack of equipment, drugs or personnel led to the death of a loved one.
I am writing this to encourage the public to do more than groan when such things occur- we need to take up such issues officially and legally so that both the practitioner and the regulators sit up and take their jobs seriously. Enough is Enough. The healthcare system is not working. Our hospitals are understaffed, ill-equipped and the staff(s) is/are not sufficiently motivated that’s why our best doctors turn to other jobs and dump the clinics and hospitals. That’s why they are strewn over Dubai, Canada and the USA where they go, excel and remain. Massive brain drain…
Some doctors who have the skills rather set up their private practice than work in general hospitals and can you really blame them? Man must chop.
WHAT TO DO
I don’t have all the answers- I am not a health expert. But I understand a little about the law and there is such a thing called medical malpractice, which occurs when a hospital, doctor or other healthcare professionals, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence might be the result of errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or health management. In other domains, medical malpractice is a billion dollar industry and is taken very seriously and this ensures that quacks and careless hospitals, Doctors and personnel don’t get away with acts of omissions or commissions. Now granted in some cases it was beyond the doctor’s control as there was no equipment but where a hospital rejects a patient and denies him access to the crucial first response he may have needed – do we look away? Do we say “ Forgive them, father, for they know not what they do?” and pray for the best? Or do we act to stop this from repeating itself?
The reason why this trend has only increased is because there is largely no public outcry, no legal sanctions and no real penalties. And I believe the time has come for us to start taking these cases to court! This isn’t a matter of just saying that government should police them, we the people MUST police them too. We must make them see the consequences of their actions, we must pressure them and we must make them pay- that’s the only way we can improve the system by holding ourselves and the practitioners accountable for their actions.
Finally, we call on the 3 levels of government and the private sector to invest heavily in the establishment of more medical facilities as well as human capital development. The PPP model will help ameliorate the funding challenges the federal, state and local governments may have. In this wise, I commend the efforts of the Private Sector Health Alliance, Dangote Foundation, and many others in their efforts to work with government towards critical reforms. We have only scratched the surface of the matter in a country of 180 million people and counting but we must start from somewhere.
The hospitals that rejected our friend will soon hear from our lawyers.
REST IN PEACE SIR KUNLE ADELODUN. ADIEU
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