Nigerian doctors are on strike amid an exodus of talent, but abandoned patients fight for their lives

A Nigerian man, Emmanuel Agbenro pictured in a ward at the National Hospital Abuja in August 2021, after his cancer treatment was suspended following a doctors' strike.

Abuja, Nigeria (CNN)Emmanuel Agbenro sits helplessly inside his sparsely-decorated ward at a hospital in Nigeria. He is supposed to be having treatment for colon cancer but doctors in Nigeria have downed tools in a nationwide strike over better pay and conditions.

"I'm only surviving by faith," said Agbenro, who is supposed to be starting a second round of chemotherapy at the state-run National Hospital in the capital Abuja. He says he has received no treatment since August 2.
"Since the strike started, no doctor has come to check on me. I'm only surviving by faith," Agbenro told CNN.
    "We are not accepting patients with serious medical needs," a member of staff at the National Hospital told CNN. "There are no doctors on the ground, so patients in bad conditions are referred to private hospitals," added the employee, who asked not to be named as he doesn't have authorization to speak with the media.
      However, treatment at private hospitals cost significantly more than those run by the government and those who cannot afford private healthcare will suffer most.
      Resident doctors in the country's state-run hospitals are striking over "poor welfare" amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections and a move by authorities to scupper the industrial action.
      As the strike by doctors over pay and conditions enters its third week, patients requiring urgent medical care such as Agbenro have been left in the lurch at the public hospitals.
        After undergoing surgery for a ruptured abdomen, Emmanuel Ejim is left to his fate as doctors down tools at the National Hospital Abuja in August 2021.
        At the National Hospital, CNN also met Emmanuel Ejim who had surgery to repair a ruptured abdomen shortly before the strikes started, has gone untreated since the doctors boycotted work.
        "Doctors are no more attending to me. The nurses only check on me whenever they please because there is no one to supervise them," Ejim told CNN.
        Both men said they cannot afford the cost of seeking healthcare in a private medical facility.
        CNN has contacted the National Hospital spokesperson for a comment.

        Healthcare ignored by the ruling class

        Many wealthy Nigerians rely on medical services abroad due to the country's crumbling health infrastructure.
        Nigeria loses an estimated $2 billion annually on medical tourism, and the country's President Muhammadu Buhari is one of the ruling classes who frequently seek treatment overseas.
        Buhari recently returned from the United Kingdom where he attended a summit and underwent a "scheduled medical check-up," a presidential spokesman said.
        The 78-year-old Nigerian leader has made multiple visits to the UK for medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
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