30% of all employees in Nigeria, Africa have high blood pressure


November 3, 2017 | 1:43 am
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HENRI ONYEMACHI is the CEO, Redbridge Healthcare Group and convener, Employee Medical Benefits Conference and Exibition. In this interview with KEMI AJUMOBI, he shares on employee disease burden, his forth coming health conference among others. Excerpts.


Henri Onyemachi is CEO of Redbridge Healthcare Group, a core healthcare consulting firm with a focus on improving the health experience in Africa. He is a public health physician trained at the University of London and has an MBA in International Healthcare Management from Frankfurt School of Finance, Germany. He is the founder and convener of the Employee Medical Benefits Conference & Exhibition (EMBC).

What is the impact of employee disease burden on corporate profitability?

Widespread chronic illness leads to decreased labour outputs, lower returns on human capital investments and increased healthcare costs.

Let us look at it simply: An organisation or company produces value that they offer their customers in return for gain, which does not necessarily have to be monetary profits. It could be societal impact and recognition. The value they produce is largely because oftheir employed people who need to be in the optimum state to produce that value in the quality, quantity and time that is required to create the expected gain for the organization. In a situation where this workforce is unhealthy, it compromises the present capacity of the organization to be profitable and threatens the future survival of the same organization.

Employee ill-health leads to loss of man hours through both absenteeism and low energy while at work. We can clearly link decreased output to decreased revenues. The impact on profitability is further worsened because there is also increased costs. Costs of treating the employees and costs of a temporary solution to the decreased number of value-creating units (the sick and absent employees). Guess what? The situation is the same even when the dependent of the employee (spouse or child) is affected. We may still have to deal with frequent absence, loss of concentration, and low productivity at work. So yes, employee disease burden affects organizations and corporations in far reaching ways.

The Gallup-Healthways Wellbeing Index in the United States surveyed over 90,000 workers across 14 major occupations. Here is what they found; a whopping 77% of the workers had Non-Communicable Diseases or what they called Chronic Health Conditions, e.g diabetes, heart problems, hypertension, asthma, obesity, and depression. The total annual costs related to the lost productivity was estimated at $84 billion. We are talking about a loss of 30 Trillion Naira from just under 100,000 employees. Do the maths for the rest. If this kind of poll was carried out in Nigeria, I do not want to imagine the results. This is a very serious issue. A clear and present danger we need to address with urgency.

Non-Communicable Diseases (Lifestyle Diseases) and the relationship to today’s workplace

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are also called Chronic Diseases. They are not infectious, they develop slowly over time and lasts for a long time, most times for the rest of the individual’s life. It is an established fact that our life styles directly increase our risks of having NCDs. Examples are hypertension, cholesterol problems, heart problems, diabetes, and cancer. According to the World Health Organisation, NCDs is the leading cause of death in the world being responsible for over 60% of deaths. Infact, 80% of these NCD related deaths occur in low and middle income countries including Nigeria. Would you believe that 30% of all employees in Nigeria and Africa have high blood pressure? This is the result of a recent study. I am trying to answer the second part of your question regarding the relationship of NCDs to today’s workplace. Do you know that most employees in Nigeria are exposed on a daily basis to the risk of developing NCDs or complicating existing NCDs by their personal choices, corporate decisions, and workplace environment? I am tempted to say more but these are the exact issues that will take centre stage at the EMBC 2017.

What is EMBC?

EMBC is an acronym for the Employee Medical Benefits Conference and Exhibition taking place on the 9th November 2017 at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja.

It is an annual conference that will focus attention on employee healthcare and wellness in Africa. This is the premier edition and we are very excited. As a matter of fact, every private and public establishment in the country should delegate a participant. Anyone can register at:

The conference has an embedded workshop on Employee Medical Benefits Administration led by the eminent Christopher Abraham, a Professor, Senior Vice President of SP Jain School of Global Management (ranked by Forbes in the top 20 international business schools). It is a career building opportunity for Human Resource professionals or Admin executives who are often responsible for coordinating employee healthcare schemes in their organisations.

The conference is organised by HealthMeetings.Org a subsidiary of the Redbridge Healthcare Group.

Why the need for this program now?

Many organisations do not have any articulated strategy for the health and wellness of their workforce. They do not link it to their corporate performance because they do not often see the link. An example, very few organisations have any form of workplace wellness programs. The closest that some organizations have come is to have periodic health screenings for their employees. There is a lot of awareness about Occupational Health, Safety,  and Environment primarily due to regulations in the oil and engineering sectors. This is however scratching the surface. We need to have an encompassing culture of employee health and wellness in large, medium, and small corporations in this country. The economic powerhouse of the nation (the workforce) spend a third of their life in the workplace. What happens there on a daily basis will have more than 30 – 50% impact on their later life and on the future economics of the country as a whole.

Who are the speakers?

Venue, date and time? Is it free?

Yes it is free and open to all organisations. Aside Chris Abraham who is coming in from Dubai to lead the embedded workshop, we have the special honor of having Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and employment as the keynote speaker. Musa Shaibu, a medical practitioner and Managing Director, NNPC Medical Services will be giving the highlight presentation on the conference theme. We have an array of local and international experts who will deeply discuss the relationship of NCDs to today’s workplace and cutting-edge solutions that can improve the health of employees in the workplace.

What do employers need to know that has been ignored yet very vital?

Investing thought and resources in the health and wellness of your employees is a direct investment in your long-term sustainability and shareholder value. Doing the opposite is actually costing you on a daily basis. You need to be at the conference to understand the business perspective of your healthcare spending.

What do employees also need to know?

Employees need to know that they are spending a huge chunk of the most valuable time of their lives in the workplace. The quality of life they will have at retirement has a lot to do with the quality of their health and wellness choices in the workplace environment now – the habits they subconsciously repeat day after day. For example, sitting. Yes you heard right…sitting can kill more employees than smoking or drinking. We will talk about these things at the conference.


November 3, 2017 | 1:43 am
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