The Stethoscope

When will the bullets finish?

I thought this was a great question to ask following the murder of a father/husband recently in the heart of Abuja. Attacked early in the evening, the family’s breadwinner was murdered by armed men brandishing sophisticated weapons.

Other members of the family sustained various gunshot injuries. They were rushed to hospitals in the environ where they received care and are recovering. The armed men of course escaped; likely traveling unmolested through the various check points mounted by security officers on our streets.

Many of the check points are set up to molest law abiding citizens and private transporters who are providing a service that the government had largely abdicated its responsibilities. Or isn’t it the job of government to provide safe and efficient transportation in our towns and cities?

I will say no more on that!

Between them, Boko Haram, herdsmen, armed robbers, ritualists, kidnappers, politicians, their henchmen and even the Police have taken hundreds of lives of Nigerians. These people are systematically reducing the quality of life and the population in Nigeria.

It is particularly scary and no one is safe in Nigeria at the moment. Even those who have security around them are only a bullet away from the grave.

How many bullets are in the country? How many more lives will be lost? How can we prevent these losses by controlling the importation of bullets and ammunition? Can we make Nigeria safer with safer and better controlled borders?

The point of course is that people who have guns need ammunition and if we cut off the supply of bullets, then these guns are almost useless as a source of death. You understand this? Hence, the question is relevant to ask in the current climate and with looming elections in Nigeria.

When will the bullets be exhausted so we can all live in peace?

I think sorting out this issue will be more effective and save more lives than forcing doctors to treat gunshot injury patients for free. Prevention is better than cure and reducing the number of patients presenting to mortuaries or to hospitals is what Nigerians need.

You see, it is simple for the government to ask hospitals to treat victims of gunshot injuries. However, the reality is that the same government has not empowered the hospitals to carry out such treatment. Many public and private hospitals do not have the capabilities to respond effectively and efficiently in the management of such injuries.

Many hospitals are further being strangled by officialdom and multiple taxation by the various local governments in ways that simply incapacitates them.

The customs slap heavy tariffs on importation of medical equipment, instruments, implants and drugs such that the cost of care has an upward trend in Nigeria. You cannot on one hand, destroy the will to live by crippling private hospitals and on the other hand ask them to save lives. The same government wants free treatment for the injured patient!

What are your thoughts on this issue?
The other point of course is that the country has a high burden of mental disorders which are not being addressed. Recent reports suggested that ‘’an estimated 20% – 30% of the population suffer from mental disorders ‘’. This is a very significant number considering Nigeria has an estimated population of over 200 Million.

Many of these people are psychopaths with a gun. Otherwise, why would people go about killing and maiming fellow Nigerians. Not managing mental illness, poverty and religious intolerance presents these deranged individuals with killing fields in Nigeria.

In effect, we have a lot of work to do in reducing the carnage in our towns and cities. We need the government to wake up to its responsibilities.
Stop the bullets from getting into the wrong hands and treat the sick!

Dr Biodun Ogungbo, MBBS, FRCS, FRCSEd, MSc, a Contributor to Newspackng, is a neurosurgeon with Brain and Surgery Consortium at 8 Buchanan Crescent, Off Aminu Kano Street, Wuse 2, Abuja.


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