Narrating the Pandemic: Ethical Issues of Medicine in Nigerian COVID-19 Patient-Pathography

Stephen E. Kekeghe PhD


Narratives by COVID-19 patients in Nigeria have revealed a strained doctor-patient relationship in the therapeutic process. Due to the dreadful myth that surrounds coronavirus as a pandemic disease, the fear of healthcare professionals in the management of patients that tested positive for the virus, leads to a breach of the Hippocratic Oath, a pseudo-sacred document that contains the ethical standard of the medical profession. This article attempts a literary appraisal of ethical problems in one coronavirus pathography (narrative by Covid-19 patient) in Nigeria. The analysis highlights poor therapeutic relationship between the patient and the caregiver, right from the diagnostic encounters to the stage of treatment. The selected pathography is subjected to critical and qualitative analyses, identifying the unprofessionalism of some healthcare providers during their treatment of covid-19 patients. The pathography is conceived as a literary text in the domain of autobiographical prose, and is discussed to highlight the potency of narrative approaches in conveying biomedical experiences, especially issues that border on medical ethics. It is discovered from the texts that the breach of the Hippocratic Oath by the caregivers impacts negatively on the therapeutic relationship. The analysis is anchored on Kekeghe’s Pathotextualism, a critical approach that underscores the interplay of literature (text) and disease (pathos). This theoretical orientation, though evolving, is   suitable for this study. In this case, the patient’s account is deconstructed as a text in the domain of literary narratives. The study concludes that through patients’ pathographies, physicians and the general public can be exposed to the physical and psychological experiences of sick people. Significantly, this will help improve physician-patient relationship, which is the first strategy to recuperation.   


Illness narratives, Medical ethics, Medical humanities, Creativity and diseases

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