How FMC Jabi will stop medical tourism – Prof Ahmed – The Whistler Newspaper


Professor Sa’ad Ahmed, Consultant Pathologist, is the Medical Director of Jabi Federal Medical Center.

The FMC has been converted into a tertiary hospital that engages in clinical services, manpower training, and research.

FMC Jabi Used To To be assisted by China. What is the situation now?

As you said, the hospital was built by the Chinese, equipped by the Chinese government, and also trained the personnel who were in the field as they were then.

Some of them went to China for these trainings, came back and continued to render services, but that’s where it ended and then the Nigerian government took over. I arrived here at the beginning of 2020, February to be precise, and took over.

You know what you encountered at that time patients being treated with a microphone I’m sure what you encountered at that time was actually a transition because when this hospital was built it was built as a federal staff hospital, because of the size the federal government has decided that we now have a large structure, why not convert it into a federal medical center? The functions are completely different.

Now, with this conversion, a large influx of patients began to move in and, of course, the expansion of the hospital started from that time.

Fortunately for us, we now have budgetary provisions and other interventions for certain structures and also equipment.

We were able to get a waiver to recruit labor, even though some of them are leaving, but we now have a number of specialists who are providing services.

Now the issue of the brain drain, maybe that’s something we’ll discuss over the course of this, it’s not particularly clear, but I think the government is doing something about it through these committees that he inaugurated.

They are currently receiving memos to deal with it. By brain drain, I mean our medical professionals who are leaving for greener pastures outside the shores of this country. Yes, every day you see them. Some go to Saudi Arabia, UK, USA, Australia, South Africa and all that.

I am hopeful that they can find something that will keep our medical professionals here to provide their services to Nigerians.

Professor Ahmad

Sir, Are you saying you don’t support our Health Care Professionals Train Abroad?

Yes, you see, if it reaches a certain percentage then it becomes alarming. Yeah, before now people used to go out, so they decide to go, study, work and all that.

Now there’s also what we call the reverse brain drain where they can come back and somehow help strengthen the system.

But what’s happening now is that the majority of people, young graduates, are living in droves. By the time they leave medical school, housekeeping and NYSC they start taking qualifying exams or certification exams for those countries and before you know it they are gone. Sometimes you employ them but they know what they’re doing, in a few months they’ll tell you sorry, I’m quitting.

What Box Be Do To Remedy The situation?

There may be many factors, but at least we can see two that are glaring. One is perhaps the differential in terms of remuneration. So if there can be a little improvement, at least let the government sit down with the stakeholders, some of these issues might be fixed.

The other thing may be some of the other push factors that affect the country, especially the issue of insecurity.

But we’re glad to hear that a lot is being done right now by the news we’re hearing and also at least we’re not hearing some of the bad news coming up again in the last week. We hear that the military is really doing their best and we hope that should be supported in order to give stability to this country.

What do you think of professionalism Nigerian medical personnel?

I think the Nigerian medical professionals, let me put it this way, are quite well trained and they are also willing and determined to give their best.

We may have difficulties, perhaps in terms of obtaining the necessary equipment to work and perhaps the remuneration that I have told you about. But these are constant commitments.

Those who are in their professional associations or unions are constantly talking to the government to see how some of these things are being improved.

But for the most part, I can say that Nigerian medical professionals are well trained and excel when they leave this country. So this is to show you that at least we are the best of all the health professionals in this country. And we should be able to see how we can provide a bit more support in training and retraining these staff.

What are your infrastructure plans for the hospital?

My plans for this hospital are to be the best in Nigeria and the West African sub-region. And we’re counting on the deployment of technology to meet some of our needs, because one of the few things we did when I got here was computerize the entire hospital, from vending machines to records, to laboratory and even to the clerk of patients by doctors.

It’s an ongoing thing and we’re developing all of that and we want it 100%. This will alleviate patient issues and help us monitor exactly what is going on. Even right now on my phone, wherever I am in this world, I can still log in and monitor what’s going on anywhere and I can ask questions.

The good thing with the software we use is that it even allows interaction with staff.

So if I have any questions, I can just chat with you. Sometimes, like midnight, 1 a.m., you’ll see someone online doing their job and you just want to show them that, OK, you’re doing well, carry on, so chat with them. It motivates them to do more outside of the traditional way of doing things.

In terms of equipment, we also brought a lot of equipment ranging from X-ray fluoroscopy to endoscopy machines to OCT which is ophthalmology equipment and some other ophthalmology related equipment.

We have a lot of equipment that we have brought into the theatre, we have laser surgery and I can tell you this is the only public hospital in Nigeria that has it.

We have the heart-lung machine which is used for open heart surgery. We also have an EEG for people who have neurological issues that need to be investigated.

Construction in progress at the hospital

We are also trying to see how we can reduce medical tourism, at least the money that will be spent elsewhere should be spent here and recover your health.

We invest so much in equipment, infrastructure, manpower and all that and also to see if we can tie all the systems together to patient satisfaction.

I told you about staffing, we are able to have more staff consultants in rare areas here. Neurosurgeons, we have up to 3 in number, 2 cardiothoracic surgeons who do open heart surgery, and we have other consultants in the field.

We have obtained accredited residency training in various departments and currently run these programs for young physicians to become consultants.

So far so good, the pass rate in all exams has been quite impressive. I think we’re doing well and will continue to provide support in all of these areas to see how we can improve what we’re doing.

How strong are the hospital staff?

We have a staff of about 1,500, for consultants we have about 50, we have resident doctors who are about 130. We have a number of nurses, almost 300 in number, laboratory scientists, I don’t have the precise figure, pharmacist, physiotherapist and all that.

In line with that too, there is a federal government program that they are about to roll out.

Currently, they are training as actors for the establishment of the National Emergency Service. FCT is one of the states where this will begin.

It’s an ambulance service, so if someone has an emergency, you call a certain number, a call center will now send an ambulance to pick up the patient and bring them to the hospital.

Because this is an emergency, NEMSAS, which is the name of the agency, will cover the cost of treatment for two days (48h) for this patient. While 48 hours are enough to stabilize the person.

You know when we say an emergency sometimes it doesn’t really have to follow you may have billions of naira but when it’s an emergency you may be oblivious and you may not have access to that money for even pay anything. So this scheme will pay for everything.

NEMSAS actually stems from the National Health Act 2014 which has been signed but of course the implementation is coming late but we say better late than never.

We hope this will also bring some relief to community members regarding access to health care.


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