ABUAD teaching hospital and efforts to stem medical tourism

ABUAD

Some Nigerians have described the magnificent high-tech teaching hospital just completed by Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), as a permanent solution to outward medical tourism.

The N50b health facility, the first of its kind in sub-Sahara Africa, according to experts will be commissioned by the Presidency and officials of the Federal Ministry of Health on October 20. Many dignitaries from home and international community will also witness the event, which coincides with the school’s 5th convocation and 8th Founder’s Day ceremony.

This is another dream achieved by the founder and promoter of the university, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN), who has been internationally acclaimed as “the agent of change through qualitative education.”

Even before its completion, the over 400-bed teaching hospital, sitting on six hectares of land has nine blocks, with each consisting of four floors, while the middle block has five floors, making a total of 37 floors, has attracted many dignitaries globally to either catch a glimpse of the state-of-the-art hospital or seek partnership to provide modern healthcare.

The Chief Medical Director of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Prof Temitope Alonge, who led a team of consultants and doctors to inspect the futuristic facility said: “To say this university is overwhelming, excellently planned, with resourcefulness would be making an understatement.

“The hospital, when completed will stand tall in the world. It beats most hospitals where I have worked in Europe. This will surely be an answer to outward medical tourism. The farm, ambience, students’ behaviour and manners are commendable.”

For the Public Affairs Officer, United States Consulate, Lagos, Darcy Zotter, “The University and its founder are an inspiration and model for Nigerians. I was inspired by the Faculty staff and most importantly the students.”

Indeed, the hospital’s uniqueness lies not only in the beautiful edifice and serene environment, but also in the latest hi-tech diagnostic equipment and international consultants and doctors, who will work with their Nigerian counterparts to provide excellent teaching for the students, and research to provide solutions to most of the ailments that had hitherto defied medical solutions, as well as treat patients from all over the world at affordable costs.

Entering the hospital through the Reception welcomes you to a different world of fully automated medical facility that leads to the Consulting Rooms, the Accident and Emergency (A&E) with 22 bed-space and two operating theatres, X-Ray room and staff lounge.

From there, a patient begins to experience the wonders of modern technology. With the press of a button, whatever is needed, whether blood or drug, is supplied within minutes through Prematic tube.

The ABUAD Teaching Hospital is said to be the first to instal the automated device that helps in medical transportation. It has 29 service centres that connect the Pharmacy, Laboratories, Five Modular theatres, and other operating theatres, Radio Frequency Cage, where the 2017 model of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) was installed, and the wards.

So, this means, rather than walk or climb stairs to any of the laboratories to request for a pint of blood or submit sample, with a touch of computer, the request is made and will be supplied in less than a minute. Also from a spot, a sample can be sent to anywhere within the hospital without physical handling.

The inter-operative teleconferencing technology five Modular theatres are amazing. They are not only being equipped with the best in the world, but they also have their uniqueness in the digital installations that allow medical students and patients’ relatives to watch the surgical operation as being performed, as well as interact with the surgeon, while dissecting the body without entering the theatre.

The innovative equipment used in the digital theatres will allow surgeons to have complete control over every aspect of the procedure.

Aside major wards, where each bed is connected with the oxygen, there are five-star rooms for wealthy patients, equipped with kitchenette and sophisticated gadget to provide maximum comfort while receiving treatment. Indeed, everything that is needed for the patient’s quick recovery is available.

While 24-hour electricity and water supply is taken for granted, there are five elevators and ramps to assist movement of people within the hospital that has its own oxygen plant house, where it generates its medical gas.

Many who are familiar with Afe Babalola’s achievements in various fields of human endeavours know that he has become a brand synonymous with excellence. However, the only thing that keeps surprising many is why a man that is almost joining the league of nonagenarians could still be much concerned about changing the world for the better.

When he set out to stop mass exodus of Nigerian youths from acquiring quality education abroad, he established a university, which the Nigerian University Commission (NUC) has described as a model and benchmark for other universities in the country. And the new teaching hospital, no doubt, would equally stem the tide of Nigerians going to foreign hospitals.

Speaking about the proposed management of the hospital, Babalola said: “This place will be managed by experts, whether from Nigeria or overseas. The truth is that an average Nigerian believes the white man is superior to us. That is why you have a native orange, but the one they considered sweet is the foreign one. Even when you are good, Nigerians would still want to go to hospitals being managed by white man. Our own Nigerian doctors will work hand-in-hand with white doctors for a long time.

“We need to give it an international flavour, which is why there will be foreign doctors, nurses and laboratory scientists working with Nigerian experts. And very soon, our people will learn that Nigerian doctors are as good as their foreign counterparts.

“As a matter of fact, we already put in place an arrangement to have some nurses from Canada, who will work alongside our nurses. Besides, we also have an agreement with Howard University, United States in matters relating to pharmacy. In fact, they wanted to build a drug manufacturing company here, using African herbs.

“We don’t want to make it just a hospital, but a teaching place, a learning place, a research centre, and of course, an international healthcare centre. We are aware we can achieve that not by mere declaration, but by action. Hence, we entered into a special relationship and partnership with Aster Hospital in Dubai. This is a hospital with international reputation. They came here and they were marvelled at the huge investment, and they agreed to cooperate with us.

“On the day of the commissioning, they are sending 10 specialists in different areas of medical care, who will perform 50 operations in difficult areas within one week here free of charge. Under the arrangement, some of the specialists will be here and some will be coming and going. So, there is no reason for anybody to go overseas for medical attention.

“The most important aspect of any hospital is the laboratory. Most Nigerian hospitals don’t have modern laboratory equipment. We have entered into agreement with Abbot Laboratories of the United States, who are adjudged the best in the world. So, instead of just supplying us with the equipment, which may not be managed properly or becoming obsolete, they will also install, manage, service and render service to the patients. With that, we have solved the problems of many Nigerians hospitals, where though laboratories are installed, but they won’t function. They will take 60 per cent of the profit, while we take only 40 per cent.

“We also have arrangement with other healthcare suppliers in the world, including Nurella of India. They are the one installing Prematic Tube, which is the first of its kind in this part of the world. It services all the 37 points in the hospital within 60 seconds. If you need anything, like you need blood now, you will get it in less than a minute or you want to send any sample to the lab, it gets there within a minute. Besides we have state-of-the-art five modular theatres where no air comes in to avoid infection. We have all equipment needed for scanning, including 2017 model of MRI.”

On how he got the health facility to this state, he said: “About five years ago, we applied to the NUC for licence to commence College of Medicine. They told us unless we have a hospital for clinical exercises and services, they wouldn’t grant us the licence. We approached the Federal Government to allow us to use the medical centre at Ido, but we were told it is not a hospital, and if we intended using it, then we had to upgrade the place. We spent about N3b to upgrade the facility, putting up new structures and equipment.

“After completion of the upgrading, the then Minister of Health came and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with us, because the place has been upgraded to the status of a teaching hospital. So, our students went there.

“Unfortunately, the virus killing Nigeria crept in.

The doctors, consultants and other health workers are government employees. They went on strike without minding the MoU we signed with government. And one thing that makes our university different is the fact that our academic calendar is predictable. A student’s four years remain four years and if you are running a five-year course you are sure of when you are graduating, whereas in public universities, a four-year course can take 10 years.

“After pleading with them, the workers resumed work. Few months after, they went on another strike. Within six months, they were on strike about four times.

“So, we concluded that the way out was to build our own teaching hospital. That is the genesis and two years ago, we started construction of this hospital. I see it as a God’s blessing in disguise.”

Speaking on the seemingly unquenchable attitude of most Nigerians for foreign hospitals, he said: “To stop people going oversees, you have to let them know that what they are looking for abroad is available here in Nigeria. If they are sure of getting the same kind of medical attention, they will stop travelling to those countries.

“Let me use my university as an example. Many Nigerians have withdrawn their children from foreign universities to come to ABUAD, because people coming from overseas appreciate what we do here. They have told us that the quality of education here is as good as any other anywhere in the world. They saw the facility available, the way our tutors teach and students’ response to teaching, as well as their behaviours. So, they bring their children here. And I believe the same will happen to this hospital. From the nurses, to the workers to the doctors, we are going to have international standard.



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