Tuesday, September 27, 2016


They say real super heroes do not wear costumes. Rather, they are the everyday people that do astonishing things despite great odds against them.

Going to the cinema that day I had mixed feelings; I really wanted to know what happened behind the scenes during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, but again I didn’t want to relive the fear I had as an ill equipped doctor during that period.

I finally decided to buy the ticket and waited for the movie to start. The emptiness of the cinema at that time made me wonder if it was the right choice as we were only 10 people ( among which were 2 kids ) at the start of the movie.

This changed as the movie progressed but I was too wrapped up in the unfolding scenes.

93 days is a story about everyday people who became Super heroes, not because they wanted to but because they had to. There was no other choice.

The story opens with an aerial view of the Lagos Lagoon and quickly moves to the marina with the narrator saying “this is my city Lagos…over 21million people call it home…how connected we are…how very fragile we are.” This poignant narrative sets the pace for what is to come - the relatively peaceful and bustling ambience of the city is about to be shook by an event so minute in its onset but so cataclysmic and wide reaching in its outcome.

The scene moves to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport where an important dignitary on a wheelchair is being ushered to a waiting SUV. We see him sweating and coughing sporadically while being comforted by a protocol officer.

The dignitary is played by no less an actor than Keppy Ekpenyong; we later come to know him as Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian- American diplomat, the man who would change the lives of millions in the country.

The SUV weaves through the Lagos traffic passing through one of the most congested parts of the city - Oshodi and makes its way to First Consultants Hospital in Obalende which will be the place the shit literally hits the fan, excuse my French.

We are subsequently introduced to the other major actors in the film; Dr Stella Adadevoh played by Bimbo Akintola who we see praying at home with her family, Dr Ada Igonoh being brought to work by her husband, Nurse Justina who was 6 months pregnant and at her first day at work and Dr Ohiaeri the Medical Director played by Danny Glover. The major actors being introduced, it was time to get the action rolling.

Dr Adadevoh gets a call at night from a distressed doctor about a troublesome patient and promises to be there.

We then face a hospital ward round scene in the morning where Dr Adadevoh and her doctors have their first official meeting with Patrick sawyer.

“Are you sure you didn’t come into contact with anyone with Ebola?” Dr Adadevoh asks Sawyer.

“No contact with dead bodies?” Dr Ada Igonoh asks Sawyer.

“Do I look like a grave digger?” Sawyer bellows at them.

Here we have our first inkling of Patrick Sawyer’s character, we do not like what we see.

The story then goes through various twists and turns where we are shocked to see Sawyer angrily yanking out his IV cannula and spraying blood all over the walls of the room and onto the bodies of the doctors, nurses and health workers, Dr Ohiaeri and Adadevoh being placed under pressure by Liberian authorities to let Sawyer go for his meeting at Calabar, the initial unpreparedness of the Lagos State government for the outbreak and the traumatic and horrifying events at the isolation unit at Yaba culminating in the deaths of Dr Adadevoh, Nurse Justina, Jato the protocol officer and Nurse Aide Evelyn among others.

What do I think about the movie? Actors that stood out for me were Bimbo Akintola, her portrayal of Adadevoh was so real and believable I had to remind myself how the real Dr Adadevoh looked by doing a Google search; Keppy Ekpenyong was perfect for the role of Sawyer, he made you pity him, he made you sad, he made you angry all at the same time. I would however have loved him to have a richer use of the Liberian accent. Danny Glover played the role of the Medical Director who carried the heavy weight of the hospital on his shoulders and had to make unpleasant decisions; his acting was flawless.

However, I had problems looking at Danny Glover as a Nigerian; there were certain mannerisms that simply were not there for example that Nigerian swag and language use.

Although I got to understand the original Dr Ohiaeri had an American education, I would say the effort to make Keppy Ekpenyong have a Liberian accent should also have been put into giving Danny Glover at least a tinge of the Nigerian accent. However, I must quickly add that the lack of “Nigerianess” in him did not in any way affect the beauty of his delivery. Which Nigerian could have played that part well? Only RMD comes to mind.

I also struggled to determine who the protagonist of the story was, the main actor as Nigerians would put it. Going into the cinema I felt it would be more of the story of Dr Adadevoh who gave her life to prevent an Ebola pandemic, but I left the cinema feeling Dr Ada Igonoh somehow took her shine.

Emotional highlights in the story were Patrick Sawyer spraying the hospital staff with his blood, the deplorable conditions at the isolation centre at Yaba, the First Consultant staff having to rely on just ORS at the isolation centre and Dr Adadevoh finally succumbing to the disease.

How did the movie make me feel as a medical practitioner? I vividly remember the fear we were all under during that period especially working in one of the public hospitals that could easily have been the first port of call for Patrick Sawyer and knowing how ill equipped we were as regards training, facilities and protective equipment, this was all despite the propaganda that the state was prepared for the outbreak.

Sadly, two years after we are still ill equipped to face an outbreak of such proportions.

What I didn’t like? The end, I felt it was rushed, we had just been taken through a roller coaster of emotions, we would have loved a gradual landing and a period to reflect, it all ended so suddenly.

Overall, it is a must watch movie, very well researched, actors were carefully chosen who bore resemblances to the actual people; acting was top notch.

Verdict: A movie you should watch, though not for the overtly emotional.
Have you seen the movie? Do you agree with me?

Thursday, January 28, 2016


"I hear the government is deploying all resources to tackle Lassa fever."

"Really? Just like Ebola?"

"Exactly, just like Ebola."

"But that time banks and schools were checking people's temperatures and providing taps to wash hands, I don't see that now."

"That is because Ebola and lassa, though both viral haemorrhagic fevers have different modes of transmission, here there's a different vector - rats."

"Rats? But I still see rats everywhere."

"Didn't you listen to the Minister of Health the other day?"

"I didn't know we have a Minister of Health."

"The government is doing a lot to eradicate them from the environment."

"Really? But I was in a government hospital the other day and I saw large rats running around."

"Don't worry, the rats have been technically defeated, they no longer have the capacity to mount conventional attacks on the populace."

"But I hear more people have died due to Lassa Fever than Ebola which only claimed a handful."

"Young man, you don't know what you're saying, do you know how much the government has budgeted for health this year?

"You mean for the health of the president?"

"Young man, what are you talking about?"

"I hear 4.8 billion naira was budgeted for the Aso rock clinic."

"And so?"

"Is it not too much?"

"Young man, do you know what a clinic is?"

"Yes, it is a place used to provide health services to OUT PATIENTS, what could they possibly need 4.8 billion naira for?

"Young man, we are talking about Aso Rock, don't you know the president needs a first class clinic with state of the art facilities to serve him and the Aso Rock staff?"

"I agree sir, but it's just a clinic, I believe there is a teaching hospital in Abuja."

"My friend do you want the president to go to a public teaching hospital?"

"I'm sorry sir, but err... what will they use the money for? I hear that is more than the budget of some teaching hospitals."

"Sharrap there, do you know how much medical equipments cost? Do you know how much an MRI, a dialysis machine or an ambulance costs?"

"Yes sir, a MRI machine costs about $3m while a new dialysis machine costs about $10,000; but sir the president does not have kidney failure and it's not like he would need an MRI daily, maybe once a year or once in his tenure; surely it can be done in a private lab."

"Young man, it seems you don't know your mate."

"I'm sorry sir, I was just trying to make common sense."

image source: thedlhughleyshow.com

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Why Looking Younger Than Your Mates May Make You Live Longer .

The other day I got into a bus going to church, walked to the back of the bus and sat down. Was about to drift into my own thoughts when I started having a strange feeling I couldn't place, there was something not quite right about the bus!

I tried to place my finger on it - looked to the left, right and front at the other passengers talking animatedly; listening in on their conversations I felt a little more uncomfortable.

Suddenly, I couldn't take it any more, 'Is this bus going to church?' I asked desperately

'No, we're going to school', the teenage girl beside me replied.

I scrambled out of the bus - I had blended in with a group of teenagers going to school on a similar bus to the one I was to take to church!

According to a study conducted at Duke University's School of Medicine and centre for Ageing, the younger you look on the outside is a reflection of the state of ageing of your organs(biological ageing) - the older your biological age, the older you look.

For most adults, ageing on the inside proceeds at same rate with that on the outside, but your genes and where you stay may make you develop signs of ageing faster.

The study was done on 1000 people monitored from their birth in the early 70s till they were 38 years old. At 38 they had tests for kidney, liver function, blood pressure etc. It was discovered that at 38, some of them had a biological ageing of 58 year olds! While some (the youthful ones) had stopped getting older just as if their biological age was paused.

In essence those that had a biological age of 58 were looking much older than their peers and this was reflected in their organs.

So it might no longer be a compliment when people say you look older than your peers.

Are you team younger looking (like me) or team older looking?

image source: themovieslistwordpress.com

Monday, July 13, 2015


11th July 2015, the day Kazeem Lawal, an official of the traffic management authority, went to work directing traffic in a Lagos suburb, was his last day on duty.
Reports say Kazeem slumped and colleagues tried to revive him by pounding his chest and pouring water on him, all to no avail before he was rushed to the hospital.

He did not survive the trip.

We are not told his age but one can infer he should be between 30 and 45.

What could be the immediate and remote causes of this young man's death? Could it have been prevented? What can be done to prevent a further recurrence? let's consider this under the following:

1. His health condition
2. Conditions at work
3. Resuscitation efforts.

There are some likely conditions that could have led to his death
1. Cardiac arrest: This is a common cause of sudden death where the heart suddenly stops beating due to irregularities.
2. Dehydration/ heat exhaustion: Guess this is self explanatory considering our harsh weather.
2. Hypoglycaemia: A low blood sugar could also lead to death.
3. Hyperglycaemia: This is high blood sugar, also a cause of death.
4. Myocardial infarction (heart attack): This is caused by reduced blood flow to the heart.

The conditions at work are also important; from the report some staff had just been sacked putting pressure on the few remaining.

Some questions arising
1. How long is the shift for an average LASTMA official, do they work all day? How frequently do they have off days?
2. How are LASTMA officials recruited? Is there any pre employment check to rule out such conditions?

3. Are all cadres registered in hospitals for care? Is there any provision for routine screening maybe on a 6monthly or yearly basis owing to the nature of their work?

Resuscitation: Are LASTMA officials being taught the basics of resuscitation at scenes of accidents? Should they be pounding their colleague's chest and pouring water on him rather than doing the recommended cardiac compressions? Do they go for classes in resuscitation?

These are all important questions to be asked as they go a long way to prevent the next avoidable death.
Meanwhile I call on the amiable Lagos State Governor to order an autopsy to be done.

image source punchng.com

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Where You Stay, How Much You Have, And Your Risk Of Dying In Nigeria.

Nigeria is a country that is unique in many ways, in the midst of extreme poverty lives extreme wealth; as varied as the topography of the country, is the economic power of the individuals.

Presently average life expectancy in Nigeria is put at 52 years (2012). Could where one resides and the amount of money in one's pocket determine how long a Nigerian is expected to live?

Should you move from where you presently reside and probably add 10-15 years to your life? Or should you adopt a more frugal lifestyle and add more years to your life?

According to this study, the answer to the above questions is yes.

From the study of 48,871 respondents, it was found that one's pocket and the geo-political zone one belongs to determines to a large extent one's mortality.

The study found out that:
If you stay in the South West and you are among the poorest people, your risk of dying is just 5% while if you are in the middle income group, it increases to 16%, while the richest group accounts for 43% of deaths!

For the South East, the values are 4%, 24% and 29% respectively.

In the South South, it is 8%, 24% and 24% respectively

In all cases in the south, the richer you are the more likely you are to die.

This is in sharp contrast to what obtains in the north:

If you stay in the North East and you are among the poorest people, your risk of dying is 51%, middle income group is 18% while richest is 2%
In North Central, it is 20%, 27% and 14% respectively
In North West, it is 31%, 18% and 8% respectively.

What does this mean?
1. In the North East, poverty is the major cause of death
2. In the southern part the richer you are, the more likely you are to die
3. You are likely to live long if you are a rich man in the north.

Do you agree with this? Why do you think this is so?

image source: artdiamondblog.com, thisdaylive.com