Evercare Hospital is going after Nigerian doctors working in the diaspora and expatriates in key specialist areas. The hospital says it is doing this to reverse the impact of the migration that has seen many medical experts leave for competing health markets offshore.
The hospital’s poaching targets are Saudi-Arabia and the United Kingdom among other leading destinations of attraction for Nigerian-trained healthcare workers. So far, the hospital has retained a clinical workforce that is 90 percent manned by Nigerians, Rajeev Bhandari, chief executive officer, Evercare Hospital Lekki told BusinessDay.
The CEO said since debuting operations in Nigeria a year ago, it has worked towards building a system that creates locally the quality of opportunities that health experts seek abroad.
Due to its scale of operation, about 10 percent of its workforce comprises expatriates who are dedicated to staff up-skilling, while it also has partnership plans with foreign bodies on various training exercises.
“We have managed to get back some doctors working outside the country such as in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere,” Bhandari said speaking at an event marking the hospital’s first year anniversary in Victoria Island.
“The opportunity that we want to create is for people to come back and work in their country.”
The mass exodus of medical talents, especially doctors and nurses has increasingly complicated the challenges faced by healthcare providers in the country, creating tough choices for operators to either rethink their staffing strategy or run at sub-optimal standards.
Nigeria has a doctor to patient ratio of one per 5, 000 patients, with nurses to patients at 16 per 10, 000, according to the World Health Organisation.
The grim consequences of this are felt most in public health facilities where the vacuum from the high attrition rate often lingers and the exit replacement is slow, leaving patients to face the brunt in the form of long waiting hours and poor patient experience.
Evercare Hospital said it seeks to capture a substantial portion of the dollar expenditure on outbound medical tourism and it needs the workforce to deliver.
The affiliate of the Evercare Group, an integrated healthcare platform operating in markets across South Asia and Africa is in Nigeria with the knowledge and experience from 30 hospitals, 16 clinics, and 82 diagnostic centres and hopes to lift medical excellence and global standards of quality service here.
Temi Awogboro, the executive director explained the hospital aims to create a pipeline of new talents and provide incentives to bring home many experienced Nigerians who are in the diaspora.
It recently signed an agreement with a group of Nigerian diaspora doctors in the UK and part of the objectives is for them to return to train and also retain their skills at home.
The firm is also looking at partnerships with medical schools and nursing schools to develop the talent here and increase the pool of people coming into the sector.
“We came into the market with the ambition to convert what has been historically a brain drain into a brain gain. And we felt with a combination of the infrastructure, the equipment and best-in-class focused on quality outcomes that we could start to re-divert some of the doctors that have left Nigeria back to Nigeria and we are increasingly seeing that,” the executive director said.
“With the right steps and alignment, we can make positive steps towards transforming and bringing innovation into the sector. For us, our goal is to ensure sustainability and continue to scale and impact lives.”
The healthcare sector saw a rising momentum in huge private investment interest which analysts attribute to a positive global shift towards understanding the importance of healthcare on a strategic level. This was highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Akin Abayomi, health commissioner for Lagos State, calling for increased private sector participation said improving the health care sector requires the joint effort of both parties, with the government setting the standards, regulating activities, and the private sector making more focused contributions.
“What we are doing is setting the benchmark. So we are building specialist facilities in psychiatry, infectious diseases, oncology, mother-child care, and cardio-renal centres. Once we set up the standard, we expect that the private sector will go and fill the gap.”
He explained that the government has done a feasibility study showing that the city requires 10 times or more hospitals with the kind of infrastructure and capacity that Evercare has, curbing brain drain in the long run.
Evercare is a 165-bed multispecialty tertiary care hospital that offers services across core medical and surgical subspecialties.