• Friday, July 19, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

SAHAD hospital will provide reverse medical tourism for Nigeria- Shamshudeen

SAHAD hospital will provide reverse medical tourism for Nigeria- Shamshudeen

Dr. Shamshudeen Ahmed Aliyu, the executive vice chairman of SAHAD Hospitals in this exclusive interview with BusinessDay, Ruth Tene Natsa says rather than Nigerian elites seeking medical tourism abroad, SAHAD hospital is set to provide world standard services at less the rate……excerpts

How many departments are you starting with?

We are all out. It is a full-fledged hospital, and we have all the departments. From the major medical departments to subsidiaries. major departments such as medicine, surgery, paediatrics, and obstetrics and gynaecology. And under these departments are some other specialised departments. In surgery, we have neurosurgery, orthopaedic surgery, and plastic surgery. And we intend to provide services in all of those departments.

In the medical department, we have different specialties, such as neurology, cardiology, and psychiatry. And we have consultants from every sub-specialty that can attend to any patient that walks in here.

Paediatrics is mostly general, and we have paediatricians, O&G, and consultants. And in terms of diagnostics, we have radiology departments, where we have MRI, CT scan, X-ray, ultrasound, and echocardiography to ECG as well.

And in the laboratory, there are lots of other services that we provide, and the list will be very, very long, but I believe I can call our laboratory department a standard laboratory one where most of our tests can be conducted.

How many doctors and nurses are you starting with?

So right now, we have opened 50 beds for business, trying to understand how the flow of service will change depending on patronage. We have nearly 20 permanent doctors, and we also have over 70 nurses at the moment. They include general nurses, midwives, and other sub-speciality nurses, like dialysis nurses, accident emergency nurses, and theatre nurses, like pre-operative nurses. So we have over 70. And there are lab scientists, lab technicians, pharmacy technicians, pharmacies, and other housekeeping staff as well.

Nigeria has been known for those who can afford it to seek treatment abroad rather than all. What will attract them to SAHAD Hospital? What makes you different? Why should I come to SAHAD rather than go to India? Israel or the U.S.?

So, what I skipped in the interview was my professional skills and how I got involved in SAHAD in the first place. My business initially was medical tourism. Our company, Foodside Health Care Limited, is into medical tourism, healthcare project management and development, and healthcare consulting services. What we had done over decades was send patients from Nigeria to many different countries for healthcare operations, so I have vast knowledge on the subject area of medical tourism.

Our initial involvement in SAHAD was development. So Foodside Health Care helped in developing this project to its completion. And then after that, we renewed our agreement to manage the facility too. So, the agenda is to do what is called reverse medical tourism, knowing fully well what medical tourism entails. In terms of infrastructure and equipment, SAHAD Hospital has all it takes to do over 70% of what patients seek abroad. And then, with our network of hospitals and doctors abroad, we have many doctors who are willing to leave their countries to come to Nigeria to provide our service.

So what international connections and expertise is SAHAD hospital bringing?

Right now, in our list, we have around 12 consultant surgeons from India who are willing to come to SAHAD Hospital to provide services. So how we are going to do it is when we gather patients that require a specific service from a specific expert. We fly them in, and they operate on the patients here, which is going to be cheaper for the patients because of the money for the visa, flights, the attendant that will go with the patient, the cultural shock when you get to where you are because you don’t know anyone, the accommodation costs have been completely waived, plus even the surgery itself will be a bit cheaper, but you are going to get all the expertise.

And we have the service of telemedicine here, where those specialists can get in touch with you even before they come here through telemedicine. And all your results—everything that we are providing here—they have beforehand, so when they come, they will maybe operate for 3–4 days, finish all the patients, and fly back. So, like I was saying, these surgeons are ready to fly in and do all the operations we have booked for them because the majority of the operations that make people fly are not emergency operations or something they will plan. So, we can have one patient today; we give them early next month, hoping that before them we have 3–4-5, and then the surgeon comes in, and within that period, we do all of them and then go back. It’s cheaper for the patients.

We have learned that SAHAD Hospital has built some patient quarters; what are those?

We have accommodations for patients that come from far away; they don’t have to start searching for hotels around. We have accommodations within the hospital where people can stay and do all their preliminary investigations and be outpatients before surgery. And after surgery, they can still go back to the accommodation and return for a post-op check-up before they are finally discharged home. So, I think with the rich knowledge in the industry that I have on my team, we will be able to deliver effective and efficient services that people do not really need to go abroad.

What are the challenges you foresee?

The big challenge we have in this industry is the high rise of commodities. The point I make here is that we intend to provide more affordable services here, but it’s kind of very difficult to even set a price for anything. I’ll give you an example. In my other hospital, we did an X-ray at 3,000 Naira, and the X-ray film was 70,000 Naira for 100 pieces. So, which means each patient will take 700 Naira home. When you finish the X-ray, we give them the film.

Now, those same pieces of X-ray film are worth 270,000 naira. So, if the price is still 3,000 Naira, the patient goes home with 2,700 Naira. And you cannot continue hiking prices as you go to the market. So, there is a serious challenge: people may not be able to afford health care if there’s no stability in the market for certain consumables that we require to operate. So, that is a big challenge that I see that might hinder the operational services that we are providing because, no matter how we want to keep the service affordable, we will not want a situation where the business is not sustainable as well. That’s the big challenge.

Have you partnered with some global pharmaceuticals?
We have not yet, because we’re just starting. So, we’ll be seeing all the opportunities out there.

Many will say that for a private specialist hospital, SAHAD Hospital will be for the rich. Is that so?

Well, the focus of SAHAD hospital is not on a specific niche of people, because when you look at the hospital setting in Abuja, there are certain hospitals where you can’t even go. After all, you know that you’re not likely to afford it. So, our range of services has provided a way for everybody to come and acquire the services. When it comes to admission, we have some large wards that are affordable for the community to afford, and we have more specific rooms where those who can afford them can come. Even in the living rooms, we have a general living room, and we also have individual living rooms for everyone to come to. SAHAD Hospital is targeting the general public in its entirety.

Thank you very much for your time!

You are most welcome!