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

PDP admits it made mistake in Akpabio’s nomination form

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has admitted that what was written in the nomination of the former governor and Senate Minority Leader, Chief Godswill Akpabio, as the candidate for Akwa Ibom North-East senatorial district in the 2015 general election was done in error.   Appearing before the Justice Goddy Anunihu-led Akwa Ibom State National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja, the National Secretary of the party, Prof. Adewale Abiodun Oladipo, clarified that what was intended to be written and...

Fayose Pardons 31 Civil Servants

Pardon was granted the 31 Civil Servants caught coming late to work on Monday, as Governor Ayo Fayose, Wednesday, asked them to return to work. This was just as Governor Fayose held a meeting with workers in the state to discuss whether the state should take the bail out funds being planned for states by the Federal Government. Speaking at the meeting in Ado-Ekiti on Wednesday, the governor who expressed concern about the bail out...

$287m Saved In Port Harcourt Refinery Turnaround Maintenance- Kachikwu

The Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, has said Nigeria has saved over $287 million from the turnaround maintenance (TAM) of the Port Harcourt Refinery, Eleme. Kachikwu made the disclosure shortly after an inspection tour of the refinery ON Wednesday. He said foreign companies had requested to carry out the TAM at a cost of $297 million but the NNPC used its manpower and local oil...

Buhari Reassures Nigerians Fulfilment Of Campaign Promises

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that Nigerians will soon see the fulfilment of his election campaign promises. He spoke on Wednesday in Abuja while receiving university students. The president assured Nigerian youth that his government’s anti-corruption campaign would secure their future. In an address to members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) who marched to the presidential villa to pledge their full support for his anti-corruption campaign, President Buhari promised that he will do...

Army Uncovers Massive Illegal Oil Bunkering Site

Nigerian Army has uncovered a massive illegal oil bunkering site barely two weeks after heightened security operations in the area. And strangely too, the location is about one kilometre from the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Thirteen suspects were arrested. According to the Commander of 2 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Brig.-Gen. Stevenson Olabanji, who broke the news, thousands of litres of illegally refined diesel were discovered at the site....

FG begins probe of NIMASA

The Federal Ministry of Transport has constituted a committee to verify and evaluate all projects currently being executed by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).   This was contained in a statement issued on Wednesday in Lagos by Hajia Lami Tumaka, the Head of Public Relations Department of NIMASA.   According to the statement, the committee members were drawn from the Federal Ministry of Transport, Federal Ministry of Works and the General Services Unit of NIMASA. The statement said this is “with...

Nigerian En Route To Dubai Arrested With N1bn Cash In Niger Republic

The police in neighbouring Niger Republic have arrested a Nigerian carrying 4.6m Euros (N1.05bn) in cash. The man was arrested at the Diori Hamani Airport in Niamey, the capital of Niger, en route Dubai in the United Arab Emirate. The Nigerien police said they suspected that the man was fleeing with the money in order to avoid being caught by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been prosecuting an anti-corruption campaign since assumption of...

Cash Coming For ‘Extremely Poor’ Nigerians- Osinbajo

Government has revealed two of its key programmes to fight the scourge.They are, one-meal-a-day for school pupils; and Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) for 25 million “extremely” poor households. To benefit from the CCT, there are two conditions. Beneficiaries must be vulnerable and fullfil their civic responsibilities. They must participate in polio vacination, school enrolment and support other government programmes. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who spoke on the administration’s plan, said the government would carry out “social sector...

Container Falls Off Ojuelegba Bridge, Crushes Couple

A container fell off the truck conveying it from the Ojuelegba bridge in Lagos, crushing to death two occupants of an unidentifiable SUV believed to be a couple. According to an eye witness, a second white colored car, was also partially crushed but fortunately the occupants had scampered to safety on time. The eye witness narrated that they were raising alarm to alert the driver of the jeep and the other occupant suspected to be...

Court Stops EFCC, Others From Inviting Oduah

Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the  Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to stay action in connection with the BMW bullet proof cars allegedly bought by Senator Stella Oduah, while serving  as minister of aviation. The court restrained EFCC, and other agencies from taking action relating to the probe of Oduah on the controversial vehicles, pending the hearing and determination of fundamental rights suit filed before the court....

Treasury Single Account Has Come To Stay- Osinbajo

Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, says the Treasury Single Account policy of the Federal Government has come to stay, as it will address issues of non-transparency especially among revenue generating agencies. Addressing a gathering of chartered accountants in Abuja on Wednesday, the Vice President gave an analysis of how the nation’s growth indices had improved over the years without a direct impact on the common man. “The growth recorded in the past 16 years...

No plan to sell refineries – NNPC

The Federal Government has said it has no plan to sell any of the refineries, but may encourage joint venture investments in the facilities. Speaking on Wednesday shortly after inspecting the Port Harcourt refinery in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Ibe...

Partner With Us To Defeat Boko Haram, Saraki Urges UN

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, yesterday urged the international community to partner with Nigeria to defeat Boko Haram insurgency in the North-eastern part of the country. Saraki made the call while delivering his key note address at the ongoing 4th World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments, organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York. He noted in a statement issued by his media office that the menace of insurgency...

Finance Ministry, Others Summoned Over Budget

Members of the House of Representatives yesterday summoned Finance Ministry, Budget Office, Fiscal Responsibility Commission, National Planning Commission, Debt Management Office and Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to explain why the 2015 Appropriation Act is not being implemented. Also, the ad-hoc committee set up by the 8th House of Assembly will today commence a public hearing over non-implementation of 2015 Budget. It was reliably gathered that officials of other agencies related to finance may also...

Solar Panels, Other Targets Bombarded In Sambisa By NAF Alpha Jets

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF), in its bid to sustain the ongoing air assault against the Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa Forest, has continued to hit vital targets with a view to decimating the capability and resolve of the members of the sect to continue to fight and cause havoc. This was contained in a statement signed on Wednesday by the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Commodore Dele Alonge. Alonge said...

Patience Jonathan settles rift with Bayelsa State Gov. Seriake Dickson

Wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, and Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, have settled their rifts. Mrs. Jonathan on Wednesday announced her decision to bury the hatchet with Dickson and directed all her loyalists in the state to work selflessly for the Peoples Democratic Party and the re-election of the incumbent in the forthcoming governorship...

Why I approved bulletproof cars’ purchase – Stella Oduah

A former Minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Oduah, has justified the 2013 purchase of two bulletproof BMW cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). She told the Federal High Court in Lagos that the cars were not bought for her personal use. The court, however, restrained anti-graft agencies from inviting her for questioning concerning the purchase.

Buhari to give free meals to primary school pupils

Vice-President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday said the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is set to commence giving primary school children free meals soon.   Speaking at the 45th Annual Accountants Conference in Abuja, the vice president said the free feeding scheme was a core project of the Federal Government that would in turn yield about 1.14 million jobs and increase in food production as the government would be investing more in the people, education and job creation.   Speaking on the topic “Repositioning Nigeria...

Buhari calls for review of Nigeria’s Joint Development Authority with Sao Tome and Principe

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has said Nigeria must sit down soon with Sao Tome & Principe to review the activities of their Joint Development Authority so as to make it more efficient and productive.   A statement by the president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said Buhari made the call at a meeting with the Prime Minister of Sao Tome & Principe, Patrice Emery Trovoada, in Abuja, on Wednesday.   Buhari said the two countries also needed to intensify their...

PDP members kick against N1000 e-registration levy

Efforts by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to mop up its aggrieved and disgruntled members across the country through the newly introduced electronic registration of members with a view to repositioning the party, suffered a great set back on Wednesday, following the outright rejection of the N1000 registration levy imposed on each member.   The pilot phase of the e-registration exercise scheduled to commence in Edo State on Wednesday, failed to take off, as some of the party members protested the...

Kogi 2015: Wada- A Needless Sentiment! By Petra Akinti Onyegbule

In less than three months from now, voters from the three senatorial districts of Kogi State will be at the polls to decide their next governor. Already, various political parties are busy with the electoral process of selecting their respective candidates for the gubernatorial contest and pollsters are at work on varied analysis regarding the chances of the contending parties.  Presently, the political battle seems to have been narrowed down to two major parties in the State, the APC...