NIGERIA: Mimiko’s Giant Strides in Health Sector

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 Got kidney problem?  Don’t hop into that US/Europe-bound plane, go to Ondo! Yes, the Kidney Care Centre located within the Medical Village, Laje, Ondo, Ondo State.  Learn from the many mighty men who have fallen in this clime, in search of elusive cure in foreign lands.

Established in 2013, the centre has already blazed the trail in kidney care by producing the first renal dietician in Nigeria, and it is the only dialyses centre for both HIV and hepatitis patients in Nigeria. As the Yoruba say, what you are travelling to Sokoto to get is already in the pocket of your sokoto (trousers).

The facilities are simply unbelievable, Classy and  unparalleled. When you land in the Medical Village, amazement gives way to stupefaction, and stupefaction to buoyant joy.  Why? The charges, as pointed out by the state Commissioner for  Information, Hon. Kayode Akinmade, are “ridiculously cheap for kidney patient to enable them live a fulfilled life.” This is because kidney care has already been heavily subsidized by the Ondo State government. The emphasis is Life More Abundant, the Obafemi Awolowo way. On parade are eminently qualified personnel, including Dr Akinfaderin D.A and Kolawole O.J of the National Postgraduate College of Medicine; Drs A.N Fasanu and Adewale O.S of the West Africa College of Physicians, Dr Adebayo of the West Africa College of Surgeons, among others. The centre operates an exchange programme where its staff would go abroad to get trained, then bring back knowledge. What is more, your services are needed if you are a cardiologist, neurologist, chemical pathologist, or urologist. Hurry up. Why delay?

From the consulting room, Health Information Department, conference room, female ward (10-bed facility), male ward, call room, laboratory, lounge, dialysis points, control room (for education), blood bank, Isolation Dialysis Unit and the VIP suite, the medicine ward (80-bed), renal kitchen and general kitchen, it is a world of classy facilities. A patient, Ayeku Oluwole, testified to the efficiency of the centre’s staff : “They’re taking good care of me. Kidney problem is very hard but they are really trying. I went home last week and returned. The doctors have really tried. In fact, all the workers in this hospital are very good.’’

Another patient, Mr Godwin Anoke, concurred in his own peculiar English laced with Nigerian Pidgin: “They take care of me very well o, because according to them, when I came here, I didn’t even know myself. I didn’t even know I am here. It was after four days before I discovered that I am in a hospital. My body is very, very fine now. Even this morning, I have even went out more than three times. Even Mr Governor himself, he even came here day before yesterday. I saw him myself here.”

Dr Akinbodewa Akinwumi, the Chief Medical Director of the Kidney Care Centre, Ondo, explained that the Kidney Care Centre is a highly specialized centre with a three-pronged focus:  one, primary prevention of kidney diseases, meaning outreach, community screening for markers of chronic kidney disease, and also risk factors such as hypertension.  It is involved in pure awareness, counseling and search for those things that can cause kidney diseases: things like the use of drugs in irrational ways.

As probably everyone knows, when most Nigerian have pains, they use a lot of pain relievers. At the end of a day’s work, many go to the chemist for over-the-counter drugs and they call it asapo or akapo (mixture), leaving adverse effects on their kidneys. And there is also the question of  lifestyle, particularly dieting.  Many Nigerians love the intestines of animals, which  research has shown to contain abnormal fat and thus cause kidney diseases. There is also cigarette smoking. That is why the hospital staff visit the communities and look for the risk factors, collecting and analyzing data, and counseling people.

But then, the main function of the hospital: for those who already have the kidney disease, it must make prompt and accurate diagnosis, to give prompt and accurate treatment. Still, dialysis, interestingly, is not a major work of the nephrology hospital but a subsection of it, which explains why the hospital is called Kidney Care Centre.  Then the third focus of the hospital, which is linked to the first, is research. And that’s where it collaborate with other centres  home and abroad.

It is linked with hospitals abroad (in Maryland, Us, and other ones in Europe), with the medical staff structured to meet up with the hospital’s three areas of focus. The staff include doctors, nurses (general nurses and dialysis nurses); dieticians, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, medical lab scientists, health information managers, who come into play when the centre gathers data through research. Indeed, since it started admission on March 13, it has recorded 39 admissions and conducted over 80 dialysis sessions, with a total of 105 patients

The patronage, according to Dr Akinbodewa, “has been wonderful. If you look at the sessions on dialysis, over 80 has been done in just over six weeks, roughly at the rate of two sessions per day, for a centre that is just starting. When you look at the progression, it is likely going to escalate over the next few months. In fact, as it is, we had to write the government to post more staff here.’’

On the parts of the host state that are not easily accessible, Akinbodewa said “We have a list that we’ve drawn up (with the map of Ondo State), dividing the state into senatorial districts. If you look at the map, Ondo town is like the centre, strategically located, so if you want to move South or East, you do so. This hospital is strategically located for outreach. From each senatorial district, we pick two local government areas periodically (quarterly), so that we would be able to cover the state within a year. Ondo State is probably the only state in Nigeria that has data on all its indigenes. That’s our goal.

The hospital has not been commissioned yet, but it has already recorded landmarks. Indeed, as the CMD quipped: “The Medical Village is designed for one purpose: medical tourism. That is why you find that the facilities you see here are second to none in Nigeria. In the standards of operation and personnel, it is also second to none. Our doctors here are not just medical officers. Two of our doctors are members of the Postgraduate College of Nigeria, some are members of the West African College of Physicians. It is a confidence booster that these are not just general practitioners, but specialists in training. There are two consultant nephrologists here, we have three dieticians, two social workers, two clinical psychologists.

Now, that’s peculiar because the care of the kidney patients is under the auspices of a team and the team is made up of the nephrologists, renal dieticians. It is important to note that this is the centre where we have produced the first renal dietician in Nigeria. That’s significant because at the last Nigerian Association of Nephrology meeting, she joined the association and she’s already working on kidney patients. Next year, by the grace of God, she will be making presentations at that association.

“Now, we’ve got nurses in this hospital, about 45 nurses, we also have biomedical engineers who ensure that the dialysis machines don’t break down and if they do, they are given prompt intervention. We’ve got an in-house laboratory. That is not common in most government hospitals. The laboratory can look at blood, stool, urine in our patients, and then we can make prompt diagnosis

It is no wonder then that the mortality rate in the hospital is less than two per cent, which is uncommon in most other hospitals. Again, the pharmacy is just 30 seconds’ walk from the consulting room, meaning that the time for treatment is contracted. This explains the high survival. Dr Akinbodewa’s parting shot: “In terms of dialysis, this hospital ranks among the best in terms of facilities. We have 10 dialysis points. Most other dialysis centres don’t have more than three or four. Out of the 10, seven are for the general population. This is the only centre that can dialyse both HIV patients and hepatitis patients. It also has a dialysis suite.’’

–– Fasua writes from Akure

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