SMART POLICY

Nigeria 2017 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Olasimbo Davidson, VP Clinical Administration & Operations of The Olive Multi-Specialist Hospitals, on the gaps in healthcare provision, strategies to effectively plug them, and the role education will have to play in the future.

Dr. Olasimbo Davidson
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Olasimbo Davidson is a medical practitioner with a master’s in public health from the University of Lagos, College of Medicine, and a professional qualification in Strategic management. She acquired her MBBS from the University of Ibadan, College of Medicine and is presently a Chartered Quality Professional of the Chartered Institute of Quality in the UK. Dr. Davidson has over 10 years’ experience in health insurance mechanisms, HMO dynamics, and health financing and over 12 years’ experience in hospital management. She pioneered several quality management initiatives at the commencement of the National Health Insurance scheme (2005).

What was the inspiration and purpose behind establishing the Olive Multi-Specialist Hospitals?

When we established The Olive Multi-Specialist Hospitals a year ago, we were aware that the healthcare industry in Nigeria was still at an immature stage, where in an emergency situation gaining access to critical care is usually a challenge. Likewise, finding a good multi-specialty hospital that operates at international standards in the Lekki area of Lagos, is difficult. Therefore, we decided that we would create a standard multi-service hospital that would meet the local population needs. Most good hospitals focus on specialist care; however, we did a survey and found that affordability is an issue, but at the same time, most people want quality healthcare. Another problem is that patients sometimes experience delays in accessing specialist healthcare. This is a persistent problem because, most hospitals schedule the same specialists round the clock, and because physicians in many sub-specialty areas are in short supply. We realized that we had to bring specialists into the country to address the alarming brain drain that this country has experienced over the last decade. We have to attract talented physicians and surgeons to Nigeria; hence, our first partnership was with Platinum Hospital in India, which will be flying up to 10 surgeons here on two-year contracts. It is not just about buying and importing equipment but training and bringing in people who can use it. Our mission is to raise standards. For example, many hospitals in Nigeria still do not have basic anti-infection measures, and some still use boiling ring sterilization systems to disinfect equipment; likewise, most hospitals do not have electronic records. We want other hospitals to upgrade and take us as an example. We will do a lot of telemedicine to widen access to quality healthcare for our patients. In terms of the response from the public sector, state governments are waking up to what's going on and what needs to be done. They are interested in what we are doing and what they can learn from us to create integrated healthcare delivery systems. We are using the technology that is available, such as linking hospital records by iCloud so that doctors can have access to patient records, irrespective of location. Patients have a right to professional and transparent healthcare services.

What role can hospitals play in pushing education about the importance of preventative healthcare?

We need to do more preventive healthcare and move away from a reliance on just treatments. Here, we offer a risk questionnaire in which we ask about patients' medical history and when they last had a comprehensive critical check, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and so on. We then have coordinators who direct patients to where they need to go. So we not only engage doctors but we promote the participation of other professionals such as case managers, rehab specialists, and dieticians. Why wait for persons at risk of heart attacks to fall critically ill, when we can identify such persons through risk management programs, and schedule for elective interventional cardiology procedures? We are trying to identify people who can be treated through preventive health care, as this saves complications, costs, and time for everyone in the long run.

What will be your priorities over the next 12 months?

As a country, Nigeria has not met its Millennium Development Goals, and we have to do better to reduce the high prevalence of infant mortality. We need to improve population health and community wellness and part of this can come from universal health coverage. Everyone must have some kind of insurance. People cannot afford to pay out of their pocket; for example, impoverished people spend up to 50% of their income on healthcare. This is unacceptable and more should be done about this, not just locally, but internationally.