The national healthcare excellence awards 2018: Matters arising

by Femi Olugbile

July 12, 2018 | 5:54 pm
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

The boldness to assume that, despite the many discouragements of the past, the people of Nigeria would, through the energy and innovation of their own citizens, get access to world class healthcare in short order was the brash notion that impelled activities such as these awards.


On Friday June 25, the fifth edition of the premier Healthcare awards in Nigeria took place at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

It was a ritzy occasion. The hall was gaily decorated. Elegant men and women sat around the white-draped tables or milled about networking. Some of the individuals and brand names were easily recognizable for anyone with any knowledge of medical practice in Nigeria. Jimi Coker – Medical Director of Lagoon Hospitals, was in black buba and sokoto, with a fila rakishly draped to one side. His black shoes shone in the reflected light. Sir Philip Atuehi, with his mane of grey hair, sat quietly beside his wife. A veritable institution in Nigerian health, who has continuously published Pharma News – from as far back as anyone could remember. Ngozi Onyia of Paelon Memorial Clinic, whose hospital had lately become the first in the country to scale the highest level of safecare quality standards. Pamela Ajayi – who built Pathcare laboratories to a gold-standard brand in diagnostics over the years. Pathcare was rebranding now – to ‘SYNLAB’, a name that was yet to catch on in the Nigerian space. It had a swagger to it (‘We do every test’ – they would say, matter-of-factly). That she had taken Pathcare into an international partnership was evidence they were no longer content to be ‘local champions’ but wanted to play at the highest level in the world. A lofty ambition in a place where, often, everything that could go wrong was guaranteed at some time or other to go very wrong indeed.

The dual anchors invited a popular comedian onstage to warm up the audience with risqué jokes. He was very good – the comedian. He had everyone in stitches. He ended on a howler, saying with a deadpan expression how the President should have been invited to the occasion to see the best specialists in the land – how it was cheaper than going to spend weeks in London.

There were serious issues at stake, despite the hilarious jokes and the good music, and the general bon vivant air. Nigerian health was in dire crisis and had been so for several years. Nigeria still lost still too many women in childbirth – the equivalent of a major plane crash every twenty fours. The rate of stunting in childgrowth was still increasing, and a distressingly large number of Nigerian children were still not living beyond their fifth birthday. As evidence of the lack of trust of the population in their healthcare facilities, citizens were spending one billion dollars every year to seek medical treatment abroad.

On the surface there was not a lot to celebrate about Nigerian Healthcare.

Looking deeper, it was clear that, while government might appear to be slow to action, the private sector was stepping up to the plate more and more to try to lay the groundwork for the health service the people desired and deserved. Among the people being honoured at the award ceremony were the icons of the industry, as well as younger, newer faces who had come on the scene and were making waves with innovative inputs.

As the evening wore on, some predictable victories were announced. Lagoon Hospitals won the Private Health Facility of the Year. HealthPlus won the retail Pharmacy of the year.  Sir Atuehi’s PharmaNews won the Health Publisher of the Year. Dr. Onyia’s Paelon Memorial Clinic won the prize for Patient Safety. Smile 360 – a very visible presence in the social media – again won the Dental Facility of the year.

There were some pleasant surprises. Harmony Advanced Diagnostic Centre, located in Ilorin, Kwara State, won the Radiology Service Provider of the Year. Aminu Kanu University Teaching Hospital won the Tertiary Hospital of the year.

Some of the young brands with innovative solutions- iDokita, DoctorNow, Doctoora, Ampersand Logistics and their fellows, received recognition and fulsome praise.

You reflected that an event such as this reiterated the fact Nigerians were hungry to keep pace with the world and were no longer content with using the Nigerian condition as excuse for an inferior healthcare. While Health was a social service, it was also a business. Government might be an enabler, but it could not really be expected to provide jobs or services for everyone. It would have to promote, as well as regulate, the growth and efflorescence of private ideas and initiatives.

On their part, the private healthcare sector, made up of doctors and nurses and pharmacists and laboratory scientists and other traditional members of the health team, but also now including ICT practitioners, banks and fund managers, health managers, actuarists and a gamut of other enablers, would need to hone their skills and team-work to function efficiently, sustainably and profitably.

Government must have realized by now, surely, that ‘Centre of Excellence’ was a statement of quality, verifiable by international quality accreditation, and not a title it could award to its teaching hospitals just because it had bought expensive equipment for them. What centres of excellence there were in Nigeria currently were entirely in private hands. Somehow these facilities, and the rash of new ones that were being built, would have to make income, as well as provide world class services accessible to all, including the most destitute Nigerians. Only a mandatory health insurance policy for the whole country could sustain that. It would take pollical boldness for any government to proclaim that, but it had to be done.

The boldness to assume that, despite the many discouragements of the past, the people of Nigeria would, through the energy and innovation of their own citizens, get access to world class healthcare in short order was the brash notion that impelled activities such as these awards.

It was certainly the reason why Jimi Coker’s fila was rakishly done to one side, and his shoes glittered with such life as he went up on the podium with his team to receive the Best Private Healthcare Facility award for Lagoon Hospitals.

It was the reason why Wale Alabi, the man behind the awards, was looking so happy and confident about the future when he rose from his seat to take the microphone.




by Femi Olugbile

July 12, 2018 | 5:54 pm
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

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