The CEO of Duchess International Hospital, Dr. Adetokunbo Shitta-Bey, speaks VICTOR AYENI How to make the nation’s healthcare affordable to the common man and how to stop the growing brain drain and medical tourism, among many other issues.
Can you tell us about yourself and your mission?
I am Dr. Adetokunbo Shitta-Bey, the CEO of Duchess International Hospital, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos. I was born in Lagos on April 13, 1972 and studied at King’s College Lagos, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, King’s College London and Cranfield University School of Management where I was awarded a Master of Business Administration.
I am a family physician specialist and a General Practitioner academician by training. I have a Masters in Primary Health Care and am a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners in the UK.
I am interested in health and socio-economic issues that affect the wealth of local communities and have a passion for clinical governance, medical education, health systems administration and policy. My personal mission is to help build safe and sustainable healthcare delivery systems in Nigeria and low/middle income communities, one practice at a time.
You recently described your medical facility, Duchess Hospital, as a “one stop shop for primary, secondary and tertiary care services”?
Duchessa International Hospital is a “one stop shop” for primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare services. This was from the beginning, identified as both a strong intention and purpose. The hospital’s mission is to “reverse medical tourism by providing the highest standards of care, using the most advanced technology and treatments to give our patients the fastest and most convenient access to the best medical expertise anywhere in the world.”
Our services are purposefully located in the heart of Ikeja and minutes away from the local and international airports. Registering as a patient at Dukesa costs N$5,000, and a consultation with a specialist family doctor costs N5,000.
Many elites in Nigeria have lost confidence in the public health system due to dilapidated infrastructure, lack of medical equipment and poorly maintained facilities, what are the ways to restore their confidence in our health sector?
We now see that there is a collective desire among Nigerians across all spectrums of society to seek robust and reliable healthcare solutions within the borders of our country. The recent account of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on his decision to perform orthopedic surgery at the Duchess International Hospital in July this year raised the confidence of public and healthcare institutions across Nigeria.
At Duchess International Hospital, our focus is therefore on rebuilding that sense of trust in the Nigerian healthcare system, with a strong offering of high-quality healthcare services, strong administrative and clinical governance, expertise led by world-class experts and affordable prices. our services for all Nigerians.
On behalf of all Nigerians, we are committed to providing “access to world-class healthcare” through five key priorities and objectives, which are: reducing the cost of access to essential hospital services, maintaining evidence-based quality medical care, 24/7 access. prioritizing emergency medicine and critical care, a wide range of services and treatments led by specialist consultants and responding directly to the needs of the population.
The Nigerian Medical Association has said the country spends $1 billion annually on medical tourism. This is an incredible amount of money. How can this trend be reversed?
These figures from the Nigerian Medical Association, if accurate, are quite significant. Of course, they have yet to be fully verified, but the figures quoted by the NMA may be an underestimation of the actual incident. To put it into context, about 50,000 Nigerians spend $20,000 per trip every year.
You say that the essential problem that defines the tendency to seek medical treatment abroad, so-called medical tourism, is the loss of trust in public health services, or what I prefer to call a “failure of trust”. ”
This lack of trust, by the way, is not exclusive to the elite of society. A dominant and persistent feature of health seeking behavior across all strata of Nigerian society is, as you say, dilapidated health infrastructure, lack of medical facilities and other factors such as the suboptimal regulatory environment in which health care operates. , the general economic situation and the mass exodus of doctors and allied health professionals from the country increased in recent years.
There has been an alarming increase in doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers migrating en masse to foreign countries. What is your reaction to this?
Nigeria is experiencing a massive “brain drain” of intellectual and clinical resources, which is having a significant impact on the state of primary, secondary and tertiary health care.
Doctors and allied health professionals should receive the best training opportunities available at home and abroad for reasons of professional self-fulfillment and for the ultimate benefit of our health training system in Nigeria.
My understanding is that we currently have a ratio of about 1 doctor to 10,000 people across the country. According to the latest NMA figures, around 6,000 doctors have left the country for greener pastures abroad in the last eight years.
What needs more attention is a structured policy framework that allows for the training of health professionals, perhaps outside the country’s borders if necessary, but also provides a mechanism to facilitate the timely return of these highly trained resources.
This ideal is inextricably linked to issues of remuneration, health infrastructure, the environment for undergraduate and postgraduate training in public institutions, taxation and incentives.
It’s a very complex problem, and it’s a multifaceted problem, and it’s not that difficult because of the current socio-economic situation and the fact that we’re graduating far fewer doctors and allied health professionals today than we were a few years ago.
Reversing the brain drain and perhaps achieving a long-term “brain gain” position will require addressing these prevailing issues head-on, in addition to exploring more innovative ways to deploy our vast untrained and highly skilled resource. scientists, allied health professionals and other ancillary staff in newly developed support and task-modified roles where their unique skill sets, training and professional backgrounds can be fully utilized.
The maternal mortality rate is quite high in Nigeria, the United Nations Children’s Fund showed that Nigeria had the fourth highest maternal mortality rate in the world at 576 per 100,000 births. What are the ways out of this issue?
A Nigerian woman’s lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy, childbirth or after abortion is 1 in 22, compared to 1 in 4900 in developed countries; and according to the World Health Organization, Nigeria accounts for more than 34 percent of maternal deaths worldwide.
Child mortality follows a similar pattern and differences in mortality for both indices occur across regions in Nigeria, depending on socio-economic patterns and distribution, and access to high-quality and affordable maternal and child health care at primary and secondary health facilities available in local communities. .
Based on an estimate, 70 percent of Nigerians are groaning in poverty and most Nigerians finance their healthcare needs through out-of-pocket expenses. Is there a way to make health care cheaper?
Health follows a social gradient. If you are poor in Nigeria, and in most parts of the developing world, you are much more likely to experience poor health outcomes and poor access to quality health care.
The provision of quality healthcare is therefore the existential question confronting healthcare delivery in Nigeria today. Making these services “accessible” to citizens is the job of the health administration. Adequate health financing is a key component in solving the access problem.
Duchess International Hospital has received significant financial support from the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s health intervention fund. It is precisely because of this that we can deliver long-term benefits to the local communities of ordinary Nigerians by committing to low and competitive fees for the wide range of services available at the hospital.
The tremendous goodwill and support received from the Federal Government and the CBN has enabled us to make our high quality services and unique specialties available to the public, helping us achieve our mission, “fastest, most convenient”. access to the best medical expertise available anywhere in the world”.
So in direct response to your question about ways to make health care more affordable in Nigeria – the solution to this problem requires strong and sustainable health care funding and financing mechanisms as well as innovation, organization and sharp leadership. designing and providing quality health services.