The Turkish Nizamiye Hospital came into existence in 2014, and since then, it has been frequented by thousands in need of top-notch medical care in Nigeria.
In this interview, Mohammed Abubakar, the public relations director of the hospital, says the medical establishment has made giant strides since inception and can compete with its counterparts in Europe and the US.
The hospital was established in 2014. Please, can you share your experience?
Thank you. Yes, you are indeed correct; the hospital was commissioned on 20th February 2014 by his Excellency, former president Goodluck Jonathan. Since then we have strived not just to be in operation, but also to ensure that our services compare to what is obtainable in Europe and America. The journey has been incredible as well challenging. As you may be aware, the Nizamiye hospital is not a magnificent building; we have very experienced doctors and nurses that have continued to give in their best in the discharge of their duties. So, in a nutshell, I would say that Nizamiye hospital has not only distinguished itself a reliable medical facility in Nigeria, it has also given Nigerians a reason not to travel abroad for medical treatment.
Talking about your services, don’t you think it might be out of reach for most Nigerians?
The hospital renders specialized services like Open Heart Surgery, Angiography, CT Scan, MRI, Neurosurgery, Orthopaedics, Algology, to mention but a few. These are highly skilled services that are on their own quite expensive even in western countries. That does not mean that we are ignorant of the implication of getting care for such services, but you can be assured that our prices are less than what you get when you travel to Europe and America. Again, we are all aware that it is estimated that Nigeria spends about $1 billion on medical tourism annually. The question thus is what the illnesses that take Nigerians abroad? Take the example of Open Heart Surgery. You will agree with me that open heart surgery entails more than just the procedure itself. There is also the periodic check. Now, say individual travels all the way to India for Open heart surgery; the risk is much higher because such an individual would be dealing with a long flight and the cabin pressure which might not be suitable for his condition. Okay, say the operation was successful, such individual would also need to travel back to India for a follow-up check with the doctors, and that would even cost money. So which is the best option? So I still maintain my position that our services might not be out of the reach of Nigerians because of the added benefits. But here at Nizamiye hospital, we have our doctors’ resident within the hospital premises, and we operate on 24 hours and seven days a week basis for all cases including open heart surgery. So tell me which is cost effective?
You mentioned that the hospital has an open heart surgery clinic; can you shed more light on it?
Yes. We have an open heart surgery clinic headed by a renowned cardiovascular surgeon with over 30 years experience and with over 15,000 open heart surgeries in Turkey. And since we opened the clinic in 2016; we have performed 18 successful open heart surgeries, two valve replacements, and 16 coronary bypasses. Our open heart surgery team is also resident in the hospital premises, and what this means is that they operate on 24 hours and 7 seven days a week. I dare say we are about the only hospital in Abuja that has this kind of setting.
Given the fact that the hospital is well equipped, there have been some issues with the high number of deaths in the hospital. What do you have to say?
Thank you for this question. There is an expectation that regardless of the medical condition of any patient, doctors at the Nizamiye hospital should be able to perform some miracle of some sort. While this is understandable given our level of expertise, however, in medical science, when a case is severe, it is terrible and there is little or nothing some doctors can do. As regards your question, the Nizamiye hospital as a policy does not turn down patients. We accept and give an objective assessment to relatives and give them all the options. In terrible cases that such patients have a couple of days to live we advise and in most instances the relatives insist that we take in the patient so he or she can die in peace.
What am I saying in essence? Nizamiye hospital seems to be the last resort. And that is a massive challenge for us because we see cases which we would have handled comfortably if the patient had turned in early. So this saddens us and a burden we have to carry.
What about the case of the son of a former minister that died at the hospital?
For the relatives of the departed, I would let this question pass. The issue has been addressed in the media.
Please tell us about the quality of staff at the hospital as well as the employment criterion?
The Nizamiye hospital boasts of a remarkably brilliant workforce. From our consultants to doctors, nurses, laboratory attendants, everyone one has distinguished him or herself. We took time to source for the best hands from Turkey and Nigeria because we pride ourselves as a world-class medical facility.
It was stated in some quarters that the hospital was built at the cost of $20 million. If true, why such investment in Nigeria?
You are correct. But as we speak, expansion works are ongoing at the hospital. So in a way, the $20 million mark has been extended to something around $30 million. Let me also inform you that the Nile University, which is a sister organization intends to use the hospital as its teaching hospital because it now has a fully accredited medical school. So why the massive investment? Nigeria is worth the investment. Let me start by giving a background on the promoters of the Nizamiye hospital. The hospital is promoted by First Surat Group of Companies with interest in the educational and health sectors.
I am sure you are aware of the Nigerian Tulip International Colleges (NTIC) and the Nile University. These are organizations under the First Surat Group of Companies umbrella. The organization is owned by a group of Turkish and Nigerian investors, and they have been in operation since 1998. As regards the hospital, the massive amount of monies spent on medical tourism was a factor. We as an organization sat and said cant we bring what is obtainable in Europe and America to Nigeria? And the answer we got was yes. And we set out to work; we traveled to most world-class hospitals in Europe and America and understudied them. This was what gave birth to the Nizamiye hospital essentially.
You recently celebrated 18 successful open heart surgeries. It appears that is one area the hospital has capacity?
Like I mentioned earlier, the hospital has various clinics that operate on 24 hours and seven days a week basis. That is not all; our doctors are resident in Nigeria and the hospital premises. So in a couple of minutes, you have a doctor with you regardless of the medical care. Secondly, Open heart surgery is not the only area we have the capacity. The open heart surgery clinic is just one. We are also specialized in Algology, which is the treatment of extreme pains. This is also not common in Nigeria. But we have a specialist with over 20 years experience. I think we are about the only hospital with neonates ICU with ventilators in Abuja. And we have about 6 of such. There is also neurosurgery, orthopaedics, general surgery, ENT, Head and Neck Surgery, Anaesthesiology & Reanimation, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dermatology and many more. I think the Nizamiye hospital can compete with any hospital in Europe and America.