In an era when most privileged Nigerians embark on medical tourism abroad, the management of Iwosan Lagoon Hospital, located in Victoria Island, Lagos, says it is working hard to put an end to the trend by providing world-class and affordable healthcare services to Nigerians. The hospital recently unveiled its state-of-the-art medical facilities, during a media tour, to signpost its readiness to change the narrative in Nigeria’s healthcare delivery system. In this exclusive interview with PATRICK IWELUNMOR, Managing Director of the hospital, Dr Ayobami Kuyoro, highlights the value her facility is bringing to the table in Nigeria. A graduate of both the College of Medicine, University of Lagos and the University of Aberdeen School of International Health and Management, Kuyoro rekindles the hope that the Nigerian medical landscape can be a global hub with the right investment. EXCERPTS:
Can you give us a brief background to the history and operations of Iwosan Lagoon Hospital?
Iwosan Lagoon Hospitals, formerly known as Lagoon Hospitals, was established by Prof. and Prof. (Mrs) Elebute, in 1986. The organisation has since expanded to six facilities, thereby becoming one of the largest private tertiary healthcare providers in West Africa. In 2021, Lagoon Hospitals was acquired by Iwosan Investments, a private healthcare investment company dedicated to investing in the Nigerian healthcare market.
In our effort to ensure quality healthcare delivery, facilities in the Iwosan Lagoon Hospitals group became the first in Sub-Saharan Africa to receive the Gold Seal of Approval of the Joint Commission International (JCI). It is a globally recognised accreditation that provides hospitals with the capacity to improve standards of care, staff education and development to core safety standards. The Ikeja and the Ikoyi facilities have consistently received the Gold Seal of Approval from the organisation for successive periods, signifying their continuous adherence to international best practices. This achievement serves as a testament to our dedication to deliver safe and efficient patient care.
We have just concluded a tour of your ultra-modern facility. Can you tell us what Iwosan Lagoon Hospital intends to achieve with this?
We want to show the world what we have going on here. Just as you have seen, we have a state-of-the-art facility and the innovative technology needed in the modern day hospital. You have spoken with our specialists; we have advanced expertise. We have different specialists, both from home and abroad, here.
So, we want to show the world that we are really keen on reversing medical tourism and letting the people know that we have quality healthcare services in Nigeria. We want to build people’s confidence in the Nigerian healthcare system. This is the whole essence of the facility tour: to show the world the amazing things we are doing here in Nigeria.
Can you tell us more about the world-class specialists you have here and how do you convince Nigerians that what they look for abroad can be found here?
I will start with our consultant interventional cardiologist, Dr Olurotimi Badero. He is the only board-certified interventional cardio-nephrologist in the world and he is also a nuclear cardiology specialist. He is the director of our cardio catheterisation lab and is overseeing our cardiac programme here in the facility. We also have Dr Banji Awosika, who is a consultant nephrologist and wellness expert. They are both from the United States and are Nigerians.
During the press briefing, you talked about the Iwosan Lagoon Hospital Wellness Centre. Can you expatiate on that?
Yes, our wellness centre is coming up in a few weeks. We shall be inviting the media for its unveiling. The focus is on preventive healthcare. It is our own way of showing patients that we care for them from preventive to curative healthcare delivery. We want patients to know that they can also prevent the onset of ailments using the appropriate lifestyle components such as nutrition, exercise, yoga and so on. Our wellness centre will also encourage early detection and response to diseases, to ensure that they do not get worse before the patient seeks medical intervention.
What do you imply when you said that Iwosan Lagoon Hospital is an “excellence centre” for cardiology?
As you must have seen for yourself, in terms of technology, we are world-class – from prevention to outpatient cardiology and to non-invasive cardiology. You have also seen our catheterisation lab for non-invasive cardiology and our theatre for cardiac surgery. The reason we invited the media is to show the world that we have these world-class facilities here. We also have the expertise to offer these services.
Lagoon hospital is a multi-specialist hospital but the Iwosan Lagoon Hospital is where we offer the best expertise in cardiology and cardiac care. Anything about your heart is what we handle here.
With the exquisiteness and sophistication of your equipment here, do you think your services will be affordable to majority of Nigerians?
The answer to the question is yes. Many persons have asked that question. For me, affordability is relative. The fact that we have provided state-of-the-art facilities does not mean our services are not affordable. The whole idea is that we have to do the right things with the right equipment and the right people, so that we have a good mix.
I will say our services are affordable and accessible to every Nigerian. It is erroneous to think that because our facilities are world-class, then people may not be able to pay for our services.
As the managing director of Iwosan Lagoon Hospital, what drives you to offer the type of strategic leadership required for excellent service delivery?
I believe in people and I also believe in investing in human resources. Nobody can achieve anything alone. Like you mentioned, with our state-of-the-art equipment, I cannot run this hospital alone. So, I strongly believe in investing in people and I think that has helped me a lot.
We need to recognise the fact that the people that work with us are the real heartbeat of the whole business and it is important to carry them along. We are different adults, coming from different places; hence the need to find a way to carry everyone along.
Everyone must have this sense of ownership and belonging, and I think that is one way to create an enabling and inspiring environment for people to be at their best. Together, we can steer the ship and work towards the same goal.
If you were to advise the Federal Government on how best to tackle the issue of brain drain in the Nigerian healthcare sector, what would you say?
Generally speaking, I think we can do better by improving people’s standard of living. Make sure the basic infrastructures are available. We must ensure that the system is working well. Everything that inhibits work should be addressed. Things like power and access roads should be fixed, so that people can work without undue stress and pressure.
Once people are convinced that the system works, with the basic infrastructures in place, they will stay. No one would want to leave a system that offers the best, in terms of reward and opportunities.