The Plagues of Healthcare Hypocrites
If you do not observe closely, you will miss the plagues scourging ABH – from the dumpsite to the dehydrating heat, insecticide- and fan-resistant mosquitoes, F Block’s sewage problem, etc. And because we are healthcare hypocrites, some of these plagues have been with us for so long that we have normalised them. We need to consider how much we learn and how little we use in our daily life as students of various health professions.
F-block is the newest block in the Alexander Brown Hall. Moreover, like an interesting consultant frequently says, newer structures have more problems than older ones. He would say the older ones were designed by the whites who knew what they were doing, and since we do not understand how things work, our structures have flaws. Sometimes, these flaws are more systemic and maintenance-oriented.
Weeks ago, sewage repeatedly oozed free in front of F Block. But the sewage problem is only one of the challenges the occupants face, as they also have to endure the noise from the 5-aside football pitch, while they have to rearrange their belongings once the football finds its way to their corridor and scatters their things. It is not much fun in the dry season either, with the dust from the pitch settling over their properties. I guess there is nothing much we can do about this situation.
F block’s sewage problems have existed intermittently for some time now as attempts to patch the problems keep failing sooner than the proposed final fix, as the Hall Chairman once said. In an interesting development, there are indications that F Block will soon become a male block with the females taking the first floor of D Block.
Unfortunately, this fix is not even final until we address the root cause of the problem. The pipelines keep getting clogged with sanitary pads, and until a better system is designed where female Brownites can easily and hygienically dispose of their sanitary pads, F block’s sewage problem will soon be the problem of A, B, C, and D block – essentially one half of the hall.
Gathering from other female Brownites, some toilets get clogged with sanitary pads in other blocks. Sometimes, just one toilet is working on an entire floor. It is ridiculous that there is no proper provision for sanitary pad disposal in a hall that has a Female Affairs Minister. No wonder rumours have it that the ongoing constitutional review might see to the scraping of the office.
But this would not be the only basic health crisis that would be plaguing students of the foremost medical institution in Sub-Saharan Africa.
How long will Brownites continue to puff fumes from the suya stand and Leke’s roast? Till our lungs becomes as dark-tarred as the road in front of ABH? It is enough that the TV room is often overcrowded and stuffy. It makes even less sense that we get poisoned from the barbecue going on outside. It is even worse for some of us that cannot afford the chicken and chips but have to put our lives on the line to enjoy Ronaldo disappoint for the umpteenth time.
Furthermore, the chronic dump problem remains an embarrassing public health hazard that no one has been able to creatively address. I now fear that it will be a constant campaign promise for future hall chairpersons and health and sanitation ministers. Perhaps, we should not spend the time at any other press or manifesto night debating this. Nothing will be done about it.
Even worse, we do not seem to understand that we live at the risk of food poisoning from the food vendors by the dump. Perhaps, until there is a Lassa fever case within the hall, we will not take care of the dump. Maybe someday, folks from Michigan would really come visiting. I also strongly believe that the birds (ravens, crows or whatnot) are a demonic nuisance and also a plague.
Finally, like God told Abraham to rise up, leave his father’s house and go to a city he will show him, our physiotherapy folks have been sent on a similar mission. Without sufficient heads up or concrete transportation and accommodation arrangements, they face uncertainties as they rotate four centres in Africa’s second-worst city to live in.
How does it affect one of the plagues dealing with the rest of us back in ABH? The large influx of fan and insecticide-resistant mosquitoes now have less blood to feast on. It feels like one of the plagues of Egypt. However, when the person that clears our drainages only shows up once in a while and gets paid more than the cleaners only because he is a man, we will continue to endure this and hope Moses does not strike us with another plague (of course, after this heat).
In the end, we are deserving of a home visit from social workers like we do for social paediatrics, so we can look inwards and talk about the health hazards we harbour in the hostel of the foremost medical students in Sub-Saharan Africa (I should exclude South Africa).