Healthcare for commercial drivers
A recent study had it that 90 per cent of commercial drivers in Lagos were hypertensive. There is no doubt that this trend cannot be the lot of drivers in the Lagos area alone. It is likely to be a national trend if the survey is extended to cover the whole country.
Most commercial drivers belong to small-holder private transporters who stumbled into the transportation business as a means of livelihood. Few of them have the time to go and check their health status, let alone ensuring that they keep to the rules of staying healthy.
Commercial drivers are among the occupational groups that expose themselves to grievous self-abuse. They wake up early in the morning, and to overcome the problems of incomplete sleep, some of them “firm up” themselves with hot alcoholic drinks or drugs before they take to the steering.
Most of them work almost round the clock and those who travel long distances do not know the importance of frequently stopping along the way to rest, stretch and refresh their bodies before continuing. Emphasis is on meeting the daily financial targets to stay profitable.
Apart from hypertension, many commercial drivers are diabetic without knowing it. Many involuntarily fall asleep while in driving. Another survey of Lagos commercial drivers recently confirmed that a “significant’” number of commercial drivers in Lagos suffer from Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS).
The dangers of commercial drivers living dangerously and in poor health are obvious. They are not only threats to themselves; they are also a source of great danger to their commuters and other innocent bystanders when accidents occur.
Given the important role that commercial drivers play in moving our economy forward and facilitating national integration, there is a need for this section of the citizenry to be brought closer to the mainstream of our healthcare system.
Though they are known to be stubborn and very suspicious of attempts to bring them under government regulation (as evident in their stiff resistance to the demands of the Lagos Traffic Law of 2012) the authorities must make more efforts to roll them into regular health checks.
This will be easier to do through working in close liaison with their various unions and cooperatives. A closer regulation of the activities of the commercial drivers in our country is not only for their benefit, it is also for the greater good of the travelling public. Drivers must be regularly assessed to ascertain their continued suitability to drive safely.
Those who fail the test should be withdrawn from the profession and assisted to go into other lines of occupation that their current health status accommodate to enable them continue to contribute their quota to the economic wellbeing of our country.