Nollywood: Influence on Nigeria’s Healthcare System – by Andrew Folusho Alalade @AFAlalade

Published:3 Dec, 2012

Nollywood: Influence on Nigeria’s Healthcare System – by Andrew Folusho Alalade @AFAlalade

There was an intriguing debate some time last year on the Facebook forum for Nigerian doctors all over the world – “Naija Medics Worldwide”. A flurry of posts was triggered off by an article posted by Dr Peter Adeosun, a resident doctor at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, many complaining of the ill-effects of Nollywood movies on the health care attitudes of Nigerians.
Just like Hollywood and Bollywood, Nollywood has become the name for Nigeria’s feature film industry. Many might not believe this, but in terms of annual film productions, Nollywood is the second largest film industry in the world (second only to Bollywood). The great Hollywood comes third on the rankings. Most Nollywood films are really soap operas – they try to portray the typical Nigerian family or society, and have become increasing popular since 1992 when the film “Living in Bondage” was released.

Not just Nigerians watch Nollywood movies, it has gradually crept into the homes of millions all over the world. I was shocked when a Jamaican friend I met in London 3 years ago told me her favourite film was “Osuofia in London”! She randomly quoted lines from several Nollywood movies.
To the simple mind, movies just educate and entertain; but a more critical review would show that movies reinforce tendencies, help to sell a brand and allows us to see stereotypical perceptions as the norm. Dale’s Cone of Experience – a tool often cited by learning experts shows that we tend to remember about 30% of what we see. Whether this figure is accurate is another issue, but most people will agree that what we watch has a great influence on what we do or how we come to perceive things. Nollywood and Nigerians are no different; people have come to transplant what they see in Nollywood movies into their everyday lives.
As a doctor, I usually watch hospital-based programmes like ‘House’, ‘Casualty’, ‘E.R’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Scrubs’, ‘Holby City’ and ‘Monroe’, and I am impressed at the attention to detail when acting out medical scenarios. There was a colleague of mine who prepared for his postgraduate medical examinations by watching “House” when he was taking time off his books. Every episode had a new clinical presentation and an interesting diagnosis. Some of the filming for “Monroe” was done in a hospital I worked in 2009/10 and some of the medical staff were invited to join the film crew to ensure that it was as ‘real-life’ as possible. After watching it, I had to agree that they were “spot-on”.
Why doesn’t Nollywood do the same? What Nollywood does is reinforce the set of harmful customary beliefs and practices that contradict safe modern-day health principles in Nigeria. To make things worse, with the lack of access to sources of quality information for many Nigerians, the best health education teachings many get will be from their stack of Nollywood CDs. How come no one has thought of this?

 

Imagine the impact if Nigeria’s film industry could team up with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) or the Ministry of Health. Safe health care practices will be seen and learnt, medical professionals will be seen as people that can be trusted and believed & disease conditions will be dealt with more urgently. There was a series called “Doctors’ Quarters” on MNET some years ago featuring Kate Nuttall-Henshaw which tried to address these issues but unfortunately did not last too long on TV. By the way, ‘Doctors Quarters’ was not really a Nollywood programme and was only shown on DSTV so not everyone got to watch it.
Just so that you have a grasp of how big the problem is, here are a few excerpts from some Nollywood movies:
– A man reading a newspaper suddenly falls down and starts shaking vigorously with some foamy liquid coming out of his mouth. The wife and daughter start shouting that he has a heart attack.
– Dressed in a scruffy manner (he looks like he has just been across the Sahara desert) but with a stethoscope around his neck, he blurts out “Hello everybody! Your mother is in a critical condition in our ICU now and she has just 2 days more to live. If you don’t get the money for the operation by tomorrow morning, she will die”
– “My sister, you have contracted staphylococcus disease? If you don’t use these antibiotics, it can transform to a very chronic virus’.
– A doctor places the outside part of his hand on the patient’s forehead and says “ Aaaaah, this patient has been poisoned and it is beyond medical treatment”
– Two cars collide and passers-by quickly gather to start dragging people out of the vehicles. (No one remembers to keep their necks immobile because of the risk of spinal cord injury)
I cannot remember a lot of Nollywood doctors giving good news. All they say is “We have tried our best but the patient died” or “This one is beyond us, it requires spiritual treatment”. No wonder, so many people believe in metaphysical aetiologies for the simplest medical problems. The hospital scenes resemble a room on a poultry farm (no wonder no one wants to go to hospital!). A typical cubicle contains a make-shift bed covered with a white bed sheet, and the patient has an empty drip bag swinging over him/her. The drip cannula on the patient’s arm could be in any cardinal direction (north, south, east or west). The doctors shown in Nollywood movies are very limited in their diagnostic abilities. They can diagnose pregnancy (very well….), malaria, typhoid and AIDS, but nothing else. Any other diagnosis leaves them extremely confused and so the patient’s family end up going to the pastor, imam and most times, herbalist. The herbalists are the ‘know-it-alls’ and they never get it wrong (…or at least that is what the family and the film watchers are made to believe). Some of them, as part of their treatment protocol even advise that the patient should not get any second opinion or else the condition will get worse.
Now, I don’t hate Nollywood! I strongly believe it is one of Nigeria’s most successful exports and I would not say all hope is lost. Simple medical maneouvres can be taught via the films e.g. CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), Heimlich’s maneouvre, haemostasis (controlling bleeding) using pressure etc. The values of childhood immunization, good nutrition, compliance with medications and prompt presentation to hospital should be emphasised on. Medical experts should be invited to advise on scenes that show “anything medical” instead of us being fed the fruits of a film director’s imagination. Nollywood movies can be an excellent means of public health education and it might even achieve much more than health education experts!

 

Hope the guys at 51 Iweka Road, Onitsha and Idumota market, Lagos are reading this?

 

Andrew Folusho Alalade MBBS, MRCS

Neurosurgery Specialist Registrar

North Thames Rotation, London Deanery

& ASIT rep, British Neurosurgical Trainee Association

Twitter: @AFAlalade

 

 

  • Wale

    Instead of moaning and sitting back, the doctors should see an opportunity. Some of them might get some jobs by approaching and collaborating with Nollywood.

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Army Frees 275 Suspected Terrorists

The Nigerian Army has released 275 persons detained following suspicion of being involved in terrorist activities. Forty-nine out of the detainees are women while 22 are minors. Two Nigeriens and two Cameroonians are also among those released. Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Hassan Umaru, handed over the detainees not found culpable to the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, in a ceremony at the 7th Division Headquarters Maimalari Barracks. “In line...

Zika Virus Persisted In Man’s Semen For 2 Months

A man in Britain who was infected with Zika while traveling to the Cook Islands showed evidence of the mosquito-borne virus in his semen for two months, health officials said Friday. The finding raises new questions for health authorities as they scramble to learn more about Zika — linked to a surge in birth defects in Brazil — and the risk of transmission through sex. The case involved a 68-year-old man who was infected with...

Saraki’s CCT Trial Begins March 10

Trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on 13 counts of false assets declaration is to resume March 10 before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Our correspondent confirmed that the CCT ?issued hearing notices and served same on parties to the case on Friday. This followed a letter written on behalf of the Federal Government by the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), intimating the tribunal of the recent judgment of the Supreme...

This Woman Allegedly Vomits, Excretes 80 Wraps Of Cocaine At Abuja Airport

A 48 year-old woman caused a mild drama at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja after she allegedly vomitted 15 wraps of white, powdery substances that tested positive for cocaine. Saidat Hassan, a mother of three,? was arrested at the central screening section of the departure hall during the screening of passengers on an Egypt Airline flight to Jedda, Saudi Arabia, en-route Cairo. She was immediately apprehended by officers of the National Drug Law...

Possible Locations Of Chibok Girls Identified– Air Force

The Nigerian Air Force says it has been able to identify possible locations of the abducted Chibok girls. The Director of Public Relations at the Nigerian Air Force, Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, said that the Air Force is abstaining from attacking the area to make sure that the girls are not hit. He explained that the latest aerial bombardment of Sambisa forest had been aimed at the logistics base of the Boko Haram sect and not areas...

Kwara Govt. Pays N2.4bn To Contractors Handling Road Projects

The Kwara Government says it has paid about N2.4billion to contractors handling over 35 road projects spread across the state. Alhaji Aro Yahaya, the State Commissioner for Works and Transport, stated this on Friday in Ilorin after inspecting some of the projects.   Yahaya said that the contractors were paid in order to fasten the completion of the projects before the commencement of the rains.   According to him, contractors handling road projects in llesha-gwanara, Share OkeOde, Offa-lra and Erinlle-llemona roads had earlier received...

NCC To Sanction Telecom Operators Who Defraud Nigerians Through Dropped Calls

Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commissions (NCC), on Friday, said the Commission would sanction telecommunication operators who defraud Nigerians through dropped-calls.     Danbatta said this during a meeting with newsmen from the North West, North Central and FCT in Kano, where he presented the Commission’s eight-point agenda.     According to him, dropped-call rate is the fraction of the telephone calls which due to technical reasons, are cut off before the speaking parties finish their conversation.   This, he said, were being used...

Supreme Court Adduces Reasons For Wike, Ibikunle’s Return As Governors

The Supreme Court on Friday gave reasons while Nyesom Wike was affirmed as the validly elected governor of Rivers.   Justice Mohammad Mahmud, who presided, held that the Governorship Electoral Petition Tribunal that handled the case swayed INEC guideline on the use of card readers for the election.   The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) also held that the tribunal also denied Wike fair hearing.   The Justice said: "While the court commends the introduction of card readers, the innovation, however, cannot supersede the voters...

Budget Defence: House Decries Uncompleted Projects In FCT

The House of Representatives Committee on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has decried the high number of uncompleted projects in the territory in spite of huge allocations for the projects.   Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Herman Hembe (APC -Benue) expressed his displeasure on Thursday in Abuja at the 2016 Priority Budget Defence of the FCT.   He listed the projects visited by the committee on oversight as: Gurara Falls Road, Lower Usman Dam, Vice President’s residence among others. Hembe expressed dissatisfaction at the...

Gov. Wike Suspends Commissioner For Finance, Accountant-General

Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers, on Friday, suspended the Commissioner for Finance and Accountant General of the State.   This is contained in a statement issued by Mr Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to the Governor (Electronic Media), in Port Harcourt.   It said that Dr Fred Kpakol, the commissioner and Sir Abere Dagogo, the Accountant General, had been suspended by the governor.   It said the suspension took immediate effect, but did not give any reason for the suspension of the two senior government officials.     (NAN)

Gov. Okowa Okays Establishment Of Modular Refineries In Delta

Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta on Friday approved the establishment of modular refineries in the state to create jobs for its teaming unemployed youths.     The governor announced the approval when Mr Isaac Wright, the Managing Director of Wright Global Group, and his team paid him a visit in Asaba.     Okowa said that establishing the refineries in the oil-rich riverine communities would place them close to source of their raw materials.   He said that apart from providing job opportunities for the people, the...

Plateau To Reduce Dependence On Federal Allocation – Lalong

Plateau governor, Mr Simon Lalong, says his state is already diversifying its economy in order to reduce dependence on allocation from Federation Account.   He made this known in Abuja on Friday at the All Progressives Congress Media Roundtable.   The governor said that development of the state was on course but said that it was gradual.   He appealed to Nigerians to be patient and give President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration at least a year for the change being yearned for to be felt.   "We know...

Tunisia To Get $560m EU Loan To Boost Economy

The European Union said on Friday it would give a loan of half a billion euros ($560 million) to boost Tunisia’s economy.   In a statement in Tunis, the union said the assistance was part of broader efforts by the EU to help Tunisia overcome the serious economic difficulties that beset it.   The EU said the assistance came at the request of Tunisia and would take the form of medium-term loans on favourable financial terms.   Few weeks ago, an unemployed man committed suicide...

President Buhari Welcomes Central African Support Against Boko Haram

President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration will partner the 11-member Economic Community of Central Africa States (ECCAS) to rid Nigeria and its neighbours of the menace of Boko Haram.   The president made the statement in Abuja on Friday when he received a message from President Obiang Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea.   Buhari said he welcomed the effort to organise a joint meeting between ECCAS and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with a view to coordinating their responses to the...

Lassa Fever Vaccine Trial In Nigeria Right – Expert

Prof. Dennis Agbonlahor, a member of the National Committee on the Control of Lassa fever, says the trials of newly developed Lassa virus vaccine in the country was a welcome idea. Agbonlahor said this while presenting a paper titled "Combating Lassa fever: A National Health Challenge", organised by the University of Benin on Friday in Benin. He said that the vaccine developed by a combined team from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases and the Public Health Agencies...

#PAUSIBILITY: Nigeria, Whirlpool of Executive Scoundrels and The Change That May Never Come by Adebayo Coker

I made a New Year resolution to try as much as possible not to burden myself with anything that may cause grief in whatever guise but my beloved nation wouldn’t stop throwing lumps of it my path. If you notice this will be my first post this year. I have tried to evade the many punches but I just couldn’t help it no more. Especially when Na’lie arrogantly...

INEC Adopts Simultaneous Accreditation, Voting In Plateau Rerun Polls

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has approved the use of simultaneous accreditation and voting for Feb. 20 supplementary and rerun elections for three state constituencies in Plateau.   The Head, Voter Education of INEC in Plateau, Mr Osaretin Imahiyereobo, said in a statement in Jos on Friday that the elections would hold in Langtang South, Pankshin North and Pankshin South.   In the statement, Imahiyereobo said the procedure would commence by 8a.m. and end at 2p.m.   "Only voters with valid Pemanent Voter Cards,...

HIV/AIDS: NACA Advise Nigerians To Play Safe On Valentine’s Day

Prof. John Idoko, Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), has advised Nigerians to love carefully and play safe as they celebrate the Valentine’s Day.   Idoko gave the advice in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Friday.   It urged people to take full charge of their health by knowing their HIV/AIDS status and encouraging their partners to avoid risky behaviours that might expose them to the AIDS virus. "Besides the excitement of the Day, people of all...

Yabatech Expels 29 Students For Exam Malpractice, Fake Results

The Yaba College of Technology (YabaTech), Lagos, says it has expelled 29 students for presenting fake certificates.   Mrs Titilayo Obadimu, the Deputy Registrar (Academics), said on Friday in a statement that of the number, some were expelled for examination misconduct during the 2014/2015 first semester.   She said the academic board had approved the expulsion of the students.   According to Obadimu, using fake certificates to secure admission contravene the rules and regulations of the institution.   "The board considered the report on students with fake...

Humanitarian Aid To Arrive Syria After World Powers Agree To Ceasefire

Humanitarian aid may soon head to Syria, just hours after diplomats here reached a deal that could lead to a cease-fire.   Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the temporary "cessation of hostilities" in Munich ahead of a security conference here that got underway Friday. Dozens of world leaders and senior diplomats were attending.   Kerry described the effort to achieve a cease-fire as "unanimous" and "ambitious." "The challenge now is to make sure that we can create...

Albert Einstein Was Right: Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves 100 Years After

Scientists said in an historic announcement, on Friday that they have for the first time directly detected the existence of gravitational waves.   David Reitze, Executive Director of the U.S.based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), said in Washington that the gravitational waves which were predicted 100 years, ago by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity, was one of the two pillars of modern physics.   "We did it. This was truly a scientific moon-shot. I really believe that. And we did it. We...