May 13, 2022

Nollywood can help save lives

This post is a reproduction of an article I posted on LinkedIn in 2020.

Nollywood Can Save Lives

Film and drama, while for entertainment, have exposed us to different cultures, taken us to different places and stretched our imaginations. In some cases, they teach us new and amazing things, some even lifesaving.

Take 911.

Hollywood taught us that this was the number to call in an emergency. It didn’t matter it was for Americans; those of us in Nigeria that watched these films thought of calling 911 too. Some countries have even ensured that dialling the 911 in their countries redirects it to their own emergency numbers!

That is how powerful these media are.

Nollywood can do the same in Nigeria. They can publicise our local and national emergency numbers and also portray the right actions to take in a medical emergency. They can help save lives. In fact, could we term it an obligation especially in the face of the inaccurate healthcare and first aid processes they show?

What Can Nollywood Do?

The characters in these Nollywood films and dramas can:

1. Use our Nigerian emergency numbers correctly in their films.

There is a national number (112) and some states have their own emergency numbers (Lagos state is 767, Oyo state is 615) etc. Use it in films instead of people wailing, shouting and running helter-skelter (except where it is called for). Let people know these numbers exist and use them. When people start to tell the stories of their own real life use, maybe the relevant agencies will begin to improve on their services.

2. Have the correct items in a first aid box.

Please we don’t want to see items that serve no use but Nigerians hold unto because they saw it in a Nollywood film. There is always that metallic bowl that just seems to occupy space.

3. Show that first aid kits come in various sizes, types and not just a green box.

Challenge their thinking! Let them know that the importance is in the content and not the box.

4. Know how to do first aid: this is the most important!

Somebody collapsing is not the time for a chest massage; someone having a seizure is not the time for characters to assume they have seen a witch neither is poisoning a child the time to force feed them with palm oil. Please. The simple act of witnessing a medical emergency and calling our emergency lines can make a big difference in our emergency medical service delivery and understanding of how it works for ordinary Nigerians.

Some characters will not know what to do because of the film’s plot but they should try to make it the exception instead of the rule. Doctors should use stethoscopes correctly, put IV lines the right way and do not spout medical inaccuracies. Please get a healthcare professional as a consultant to advice you as you flesh out the film’s story-line where the plot involves medical knowledge or care.

For the movie Contagion, an infectious disease expert was their consultant. Do you see how that film done in 2011 mirrors what COVID19 is doing today?

As much as possible, I publicise our emergency numbers on all our social media platforms but the awareness is still low.

In first aid trainings when I ask, participants usually don’t know it and when they are told, they scoff at it with their usual next response being “Will they come?“. Yes, they do! 🙂 But we also need to understand our reality, for one, traffic in Lagos is terrible and the use of sirens by all and sundry has brought it into disrepute that people don’t even move their cars when they hear it. 😏😕

Is our emergency response perfect? No, it is not. I have called them and they responded, but it was not for a medical emergency. Someone I know has called them and they did come but is was not as soon as he would have liked.

The only time I called them for an accident I witnessed on the road, which was not safe for me to stop (it was a trailer and my kids were in the car), I called them up to 5 times and it was music all the way. I followed up with them and they finally got back to me that they were having issues with the Lagos response at that time (it was Abuja that called me back).

It is not perfect but the only way we can make it work, and we have to, is to let people know it exists and shine a light on them if they do not meet our expectations. It is the only way they will improve.

Nigerians are mostly reactive but we have to start being proactive. It is the only way we can save more lives. 🙏🏽

Nollywood, be credible and be of help to 200 million Nigerians.

Nollywood, you can do this. Thank you.

About the author 

Dr Tosin Osikoya

Committed to saving lives. One person at a time.

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