With regards to your experience with patients and medical institutions, do you think Nigeria can boast of quality health care in the country?
Quality comes with funding. We can if we are well funded. We know we have the problem of health care being under-budgeted but the good thing about our situation now is that Nigerians are more enlightened and are beginning to speak up. This also will put pressure on the leadership to beginning to do what the people want.
People travel abroad for medical care because they do not believe in the system. Everybody would have stayed if we funded the system right.
If you were the health minister, what would be your recommendation knowing all the challenges in the health system?
My recommendation is simple. It is first to sit down and create a system that will work. Our system does not work. Healthcare is system. It is not private hospital, general hospital or government. Once we are able to correct how that system goes from generating personnel to generating and maintaining the facilities, making sure that services are available and accessible and funding. It is knowing the problems and fixing them.
It’s not enough to say, doctors go on strike, there is reason for the strike. It is not an isolated poor funding, why is there poor funding? It is not an isolation of the machines that are broken down and the bureaucracy of changing them; it is in questioning why the bureaucracy is there.
The initiative was recently honoured with the Nigerian Health Care Excellence Award 2019, how will this affect the church?
This is the sixth time this healthcare award has been running. We got the award of the Outstanding CSR of the year. It is, we as a facility offering free dialysis to the underprivileged. We are excited about the award. Just in our own little corner, we are alleviating cost burden for chronic kidney patients, we are beginning to get noticed. We have been doing this for the past four years running the dialysis support scheme. We are really excited that we are getting noticed and are willing to affect more lives. However, this will definitely encourage the church to do more.
What is the role of the church in people’s health care?
Though the church may not have all it takes, it has a vital role to play and this is why RCCG has put its foot forward to make everybody know that it is possible to close this gap a little. So, we are not leaving it for the government to do. Imagine every church trying to make sure that people have access to free health care. If you make services free, it means someone is paying for the free services, but it gives someone down the line access. The church can’t do it all but the church is saying it is possible. it means you need someone to partner with government to close the gap with healthcare delivery.
How do you ensure that people that need it most benefit from the initiative?
We do some sort of profiling of the patient so that we do not run the risk of everyone just coming in even those that can afford it. So, we do profiling before we recruit patients on the scheme; the profiling checks patient status to know if the patient truly has the ability to pay or not.
Meanwhile, the patient would have been in our system for about four weeks. We dialyse the patient for those period and watch how he or she pays. We interact with the person and if we see that the person is indigent based on our parameters; we offer to put the person on the scheme.
More so, there is no segregation in the initiative. It is called the Healing Stripes Hospital and not the Healing Stripes Christian Hospital. It is just owned by the Redeemed Christian Hospital and we reach out to all.
Our goal is to offer quality care and close the gap. We render out-patient services which is about 80 percent of what we do here, we render in-patient services, we also offer surgical services, we are big on preventive health.
We don’t want people to get sick at all. We want them to stay healthy so we encourage them to do regular checks.
Do you fault Nigerians who do self medication and what is your impression of medical care in Nigeria?
Yes, because, ignorance is not an excuse. No matter how minimal the services here in Nigeria, you have to use it first. The health centre may not have that is required to function well but you must visit the health centre. When you look at the rise in renal disease cases, it is still indiscriminate self care that is contributing to its rise. The government has provided health centres, no matter how non-function you might think it is. If you got a prescription and the right dose to take, it is better than self care. Poor access does not mean no access.