Health services should be free for everybody in Nigeria, says Braithwaite
American Hospital promises better delivery, calls for routine medical insurance, legal system to protect patients
American Hospital Dubai (AHD), a leading private hospital and member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, has expressed confidence in its move towards introducing new benchmarks of excellence for the medical industry.
Chief of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department at the American Hospital, Dr. Omowunmi Braithwaite, at the just concluded Medic West Africa healthcare exhibition in Lagos, told The Guardian that the hospital is committed to providing good healthcare. She said there is need to have functional healthcare insurance in Nigeria, and the country should have a medical legal system to protect patients from rogue doctors.
Braithwaite said: “In an ideal world, the government needs to step in; health should be free for everybody just like in United Kingdom (U.K.) where anybody no matter your status can get free treatment.
“Healthcare is expensive anywhere in the word which is why Obamacare was introduced in the United States (U.S.), it really the insurance companies that benefit because everyone have to be insured. Nobody have to be insured in England before getting good medical care.
“Insurance system is another way to get access to medical care easily. With the introduction of insurance system in Dubai by government anybody can access both private and government hospital, we also need to have similar thing in Nigeria.
“Having no money does not mean you should be relegated and condemned to death, so the government has to step in maybe, through the taxation system because that is how the National Health Service (NHS) is founded, but we have to have a robust taxation system in place. And also big companies should be made to take out insurance to their employees so that they can access healthcare.”
How do you hope to better understand the medical needs of Nigerians through this exhibition? Braithwaite said: “Nigeria should have a medical legal system in place to protect patients from bogus and doctors who are not up to the standard so, patient should have where they can report doctors and then a team of experts would look at the case and then decide whether the doctor is right or wrong and make appropriate compensation or punish the doctor appropriately; this has to be in place to serve as deterrence to those who open up a shop and start practicing as doctor.”
According Braithwaite, their presence at Medic West Africa 2016, the largest healthcare event in West Africa, demonstrates the hospital’s deep commitment in recognition of the needs of Nigeria and for the people looking for world-class healthcare services and treatments. In line with this, they aim to explore unique needs of the patients of Nigeria and service gaps that need to be addressed.
Braithwaite, who is the daughter of Nigerian late legal icon Tunde Braithwaite, joined the Hospital in January 2010. Before her appointment in Dubai, she was a senior substantive consultant in London where she had a large practice at North West London Hospitals NHS Trust U.K. and was the head of emergency Gynaecology, Gynaecology ultrasound and lead clinician for Obstetrics. She also had a large private practice at the prestigious Harley Street in London.
Braithwaite told The Guardian in an exclusive interview: “The hospital has been in existence close to 20 years, it was founded by the Emirati, the Awulas; their father had a vision about bringing high level standard healthcare to the middle-east so, they got the Joint Commission International (JCI) registration and they are very stringent as to the quality of doctors they bring in, all of them have to either America, CCST certified or the equivalent, generally our doctors have to be at consultant level and most of the doctors are Europeans or American trained, we have some Australian doctors as well. And AHD is the first hospital in the Middle East to be registered by JCI.
“I have been with AHD for almost six years and prior to coming to Dubai, I had been a consultant in the U.K. for eight years, I have now been working at the AHD for almost six years; my department, Obstetrics and Gynaecology which I head, we are six doctors so, we laparoscopic surgeon, generalists, we also do some basic fertility cases, colposcopy, must of what you would expect in Obstetrics and Gynaecology is covered within our department, we give first class care especially for the obstetric cases, it a consultant led unit, so we attend all the deliveries, as consultants we are expected to be there. Normally, patient book with me and she will see me throughout her pregnancy, delivery and after delivery.
“Our facilities are exceptional; a five-star grade in term of accommodation for the pertinence with mainly western trained midwives as well as two Sudanese.
“I have delivered so many Nigerian babies and I also operate at the gynaecological level for Nigerian patients and they are quite happy with the service and they keep coming back.”
What prompted the decision for AHD to be part of the Medic West Africa exhibition? She said: “This is not the first time we have attended Medic West Africa exhibition; we were here for the maiden edition, though it was very small. The reason why we come is to create awareness for the Nigerian population. We have already had a significant number of Nigerian coming to us for care. A lot of Nigerian comes to Dubai for holiday, party and other thing but we are here to let them know that they can also use the same visit to have their health checked and also to let them know that we have the best healthcare service and facilities within the hospital and our doctors are very good.”
How many Nigerians visit AHD annually and what treatment is mostly sorted after? Braithwaite explained: “I cannot give you the exact figure but Nigerian generally comes for practically all the subspecialty in medicine, surgical procedure, cancer treatment, a few also comes for general check up, some are coming for cardiac; we have open heart surgery doctors cases, diabetes is also a major reason why a lot of them come to the hospital.”
Do you intend to have a branch of your hospital in Nigeria and what are you putting place to help Nigerians and how accessible are your services? She said: “No. Patients need to come to us to be able to provide good care for them. In terms of raising awareness, we approach people in the media so; that people can be more aware of what they can do to detect cancer at early stages and what they can do to prevent cancer.