‘Professionals in diaspora who want to give back to Nigeria will be supported’ -Dabiri-Erewa
Recently, Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), ABIKE DABIRI-EREWA, in line with her mission, visited Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre & Specialist Hospital, to see and acknowledge the contribution of its MD/CEO, MODUPE ELEBUTE-ODUNSI, for providing quality health care for Nigerians. Excerpts. Kemi Ajumobi
ABIKE DABIRI-EREWA, Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM)
In many professions around the world, Nigerians are the best, particularly in healthcare, and for Dr Modupe to come back home to set up a cancer centre/specialist hospital in Nigeria, which can be compared to top hospitals around the world, at this period in Nigeria, despite the challenges we complain we are having in the country, is truly commendable.
This is an inspiration to many other professionals, and a lot of people are saying they want to do the same. I am here to encourage her; the government will also encourage her. It is going to be challenging no doubt. I am sure she is facing some challenges already but ultimately, it is the best decision to take, to come back home, not just to give back, but giving the best to the society. When we travel abroad, we do not get better quality than this. The beauty of this is that, it is run by Nigerians and I am proud to be a Nigerian. Thank you Dr. Modupe for making me proud to be a Nigerian, and making us all proud to be Nigerians. This is the spirit and the message, that no matter how far you go around the world, you need to come home and be part of those contributing towards a better, healthier and greater Nigeria. She did not have to come back, she was in her comfort zone, but she took a risk, left that zone and chose to do something in her home country, and today, we are proud to say, talking about investments, that we have one of the best hospitals and specialist centres here in Nigeria from the private sector.
The role of the government is to create an enabling environment, which is why we have a diaspora policy that puts in place all the things Dr Modupe has requested, which will make life better for those who want to come back to also better the country.
This is the 4th of such initiatives by diasporans returning to contribute their quota to Nigeria. We have a stroke centre in Imo state, the best in Nigeria, set up by a Nigerian in the diaspora. People do not see these things and prefer to see the negatives, so we are here to celebrate this positivity, and what you have done here is amazing. The government will support you every step of the way and support every other professional that wants to come back home to give their best.
MODUPE ELEBUTE-ODUNSI, Founder/CEO Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre & Specialist Hospital
Central to everything that we talked about was the fact that we wanted a hospital that was of international standards all the time. To make sure that whilst we were doing that, we kept in mind the fact that patients are central to all that we do. We decided to have a complete one stop shop.
I have practiced in the UK and have been part of the Lagoon Hospital which started many years ago. I know quite a lot about the private sector in Nigeria though I did not work with them. One thing I observed was that, access to health care for patients was disjointed. You do your blood test somewhere and you go for your scan somewhere else, there is no cohesiveness. That was one of the major things for me which we corrected by setting up this place.
Also, we have designed the whole place in a way that feels like a home which promotes healing from the time people walk through the door. We have got the medical side, and we have the day unit, where people come for transfusions, chemotherapy, observations and all. Also, in another building, we house our theatres, imaging MRI, state of the art mammogram which enables us to get better images, CT scan and the linear accelerator machine which delivers radiotherapy to patients. We should have one of this to 100,000 patients; sadly we have only 5 in Nigeria. That is why we went the extra mile to invest in this project so that any patient that comes here doesn’t have to go anywhere else.
We need to have a forum where we can engage government, especially regarding health, tax exemptions, Customs issues and surely, additional costs should be removed. Massive generator bills keep rising. There is the need for a rebate; it makes it easier for us, which makes it easier for the patients because, if the cost is high, it will definitely impact on the patients/end user. Your role as Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission is critical.
KEMI OGUNYEMI, Director Of Nursing Services at Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre & Specialist Hospital
I basically train and ensure that the nurses are competent and they give the best customer service care. I am a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Oncology/Cancer care. There is a gap in our health care system in Nigeria and I am glad she made the decision because it is why we are here today. Worthy of mention is that, it was founded by a Nigerian and run by Nigerians who are just as competent as the people in England, US or anywhere in the world.
From our cleaners, to the pharmacists, to the nurses and doctors, our focus is our clients, they come first. It is same that we are doing in Lagos state as well and I must give kudos to the governor of Lagos state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu because, part of his THEME agenda has ‘H’ which signifies Health, so what we are doing is in line with this vision. He has been here, seen it, and hopefully, we will expand it across the state.
When I was in the US, I saw a lot of Nigerians coming because I was a director of the outpatient clinic over there, and now I am here. I know what is out there, I know the quality that obtains there, and that is what we are bringing back here. We are going to maintain it because a lot of people are asking if we can and our answer is “absolutely”.
Nigerians deserve the best, they deserve quality care. There is no need to go to India for your oncology care. This is my take and hopefully, this is a start and I know the Chairman of the Diaspora commission is all for this as well. I believe in Nigeria and we will get there.
IFEOMA DIBIA, Assistant Comptroller General Of Immigration (rtd)
Though a retired Assistant Comptroller General Of Immigration, I worked in New York for six years, came back and retired.
The first time I came to Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre & Specialist Hospital, the reception was wonderful. I felt as if I was in New York. I asked who owned the hospital, and where the person had practiced before. When I was told “UK”, I said “No wonder”. I was treated like I was attended to when abroad. I was so happy. I have been telling people about them, I did not know that there was something like this here in Lagos. Why do we need to move out when we can receive same care here? It makes a whole lot of sense, instead of wasting money travelling out, flight tickets and all. You get genuine attention here, so I prefer coming here.
You go to the US, you are being treated, you ask the doctor treating you where he or she is from, they say they are from Nigeria. There are several Nigerians in hospitals around the world.
We have it all in all fields, even teachers. There was a time we went to Ohio University, when we got there, we saw the lecturers. Honestly, it felt like we were in Ilu Oluji in Ondo state, there were a lot of them there. Abike should please talk to them to come home, we have it all, especially health. There is no hospital you will go to in New York that you will not find a Nigerian. You can’t pay for this in London, even the space. Abike Dabiri, please encourage them. That is why you are here, you are a woman, people listen to women more, they know how to relay messages.