Mrs. Achia Dewan is the chairperson of Primus International Super Specialty Hospital in India and Nigeria. She speaks to Victoria Ojeme about the hospital’s plans to begin kidney transplants in Nigeria by establishing a kidney transplant centre in the country.
On setting up a branch in Nigeria
We have a hospital in India named Primus Specialist Hospital and we have been getting a lot of Nigerian patients, and when these patients come to India with a 10 per cent hope that they will receive good treatment and many at times they come when hardly any thing can be done.
So that was the reason we were finding it very sorrowful and we thought of looking for a way of helping these communities, because they are coming all the way with the hope that the patient is going to be okay.
Unfortunately now we have a limitation in the medical field and when you tell them that no matter the amount of money you spend on the patient, the patient will not survive. Sometimes the life of that patient will be just two months or three months and when you ask them to go back to Nigeria they say no.
In most cases out of pity, we were being forced to keep these patients, you can imagine what that patient is going through at this particular period, the emotions and everything that patient has put you into.
That was when I and the Indian High Commissioner arrived at a decision to meet with the Minister of FCT Mohammed Aleiro. This Karu building was given to me, 40 per cent of it, 60 per cent which was to be completed by the government. when we were given this building, within six months we had to import medicines bought equipment and started operation.
We went there with the hope of helping people, our hope is to start kidney transplant this year. At the moment, we under go joint replacements, spine surgery, neurosurgery, (brain surgery), ENT including cochlear (ear, nose and throat) implant, plastic and reconstructive surgery and nephrology (dialysis). Etc.
Everything that comes into this country, you must pay duty, apart from that we rely on generators. We definitely want support from the government of Nigeria, you may be right but if a patient has to go to India and you do the comparison, it is much less than what we are doing here, because in India, at least one or two persons will come with the patient and you need to stay for three months. It is not easy to bring doctors to Nigeria due to bad online publicity of African countries which is not true.
Are there plans to reduce your charges?
That is not going to be a problem; we can do it if the hospital is doing very well, we are just starting we have so many expenses, if the number grows, definitely we can consider. Why not, it is our wish to reach out to every body, and I totally agree with you because for the common person it is not affordable.
Free medical care
We are doing it but mostly, free consultation, 30 per cent discount on test and scan but not treatment because treatment is very expensive.
Reduction of treatment cost
y half during this time of medical free campaign than the diagnosis and other things you have mentioned?
It is the government that has to make this policy. If you go to India; the amount you pay is the same amount you will pay here in Nigeria. N86 billion goes out from Nigeria government to other country for medical every year. The government should be working on how to save that money and try to give insurance policy so that many things can be done in the country.
On Primus model of health care.
Our plan was to start investigation centres all over Nigeria. We wanted to start diagnoses centre in Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Ogun and Lagos because whenever you are sick all you need is to be investigated. If you are diagnosed properly, half of your problem is solved then treatment of life will be there.
Lessons learned in Nigeria health care delivery
I must tell you that, I came to Nigeria with the zeal to assist the community, it is not rice selling or foot ball place were people can play games, it is health you don’t play games with peoples health. I had full confidence, health is very important nobody play with health, it doesn’t matter when you need medical care you have billions in your pocket and a chartered flight is waiting for you out there believe you me, there wont be time for you, I had plans to start a cardiologic, oncology and kidney transplant centre and it has to be a team work.
Lessons Nigeria should learn from Indians
In India 30 years back we were the same and when we started many Indians who were based abroad came back. So that was my plans, let us start something and Nigerian doctors who are abroad should come back and grow the health sector in the country.
On Nigeria’s health system
There are a lot of challenges and we all have to work as a team. The government, private investors and other stake holders must invest in healthcare so that quality and standards can be brought to a acceptable level. My advice to the Nigerian doctors is that they are the most respected people in the world and they should come forward and push for a better healthcare for Nigerian people.