The INVIVO store in Ibadan
By Martins Ifijeh
When people talk about primary healthcare in Nigeria, what readily comes to mind is the picture of a refurbished building, one or two nurses or health workers, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) medical doctor, few drugs for the lucky Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and then a very big sign post depicting that the government has provided a healthcare facility for the people within the environment.
This is how an average Nigerian living in urban area sees PHCs in the country. For those in rural or hard-to-reach areas, their perception about PHCs is worse off. They believe life have served them lemons when relating it to healthcare.
But a healthcare and beauty provider, INVIVO, is changing the narrative. They want every Nigerian to walk up to a health facility and access healthcare in the most professional and affordable way. They are pioneering a one stop destination for all health and beauty needs, as well as providing a consultancy approach to its service delivery within each community where they are located.
The health facility, which has opened in three shopping malls in different cities across the country – Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja – has already offered its services to 10,000 Nigerians in these cities through the primary healthcare initiative of accessibility, affordability and friendship.
‘’We have identified what is missing in Nigeria’s healthcare provision, that is why we want to bring the solution close to the people in a more friendly and effective way. Hence we are establishing healthcare shops in major shopping malls across cities in the country, starting from Ibadan, Lagos and Abuja,’’ said the Director, INVIVO, Mr. John Onyeoguzoro, who took journalists round the stores in Lagos and Ibadan.
He said this became necessary since healthcare remains one of the basic rights of every citizen, despite unfortunately, only few Nigerians have access to it any time they want.
According to him, the health centres contain a pharmacy, and a clinic. ‘’Just as people go to shopping malls to shop, watch movies, play games and hang out with friends, they can as well walk up to a shopping mall near them and access healthcare,’’ he explained.
He noted that in line with the objectives of the board of Smartmark Ltd, under which INVIVO was birthed, and led by its founder and social entrepreneur, Mr. Yakubu Gobir, INVIVO intends to strategically provide support and solution to beauty and health related challenges in the country.
‘’The aim is to improve the quality of healthcare in Nigeria by working within the core principles of primary healthcare as stated by the World Health Organisation. With INVIVO, the social problems being addressed are a lack of easy access to primary healthcare; the menace of counterfeit and fake dugs; self-medication; and lack of early diagnosis of potentially fatal disease conditions.’’
He said as a patient-centered and health focused business, INVIVO has continued to strive to support the government towards achieving its primary healthcare goals, adding that the free check facility in all INVIVO stores allows patients to walk-in; get their vitals checked and then see a resident doctor or nurse for free consultation.
Onyeoguzoro, explained that the several free services given in any INVOVO store includes free medical consultancy and easy accessibility for patients; preventive and health promotion services and awareness of screening tests for each age group and sex, among others.
‘’Others include our partnership with Metro Eye for the provision of free eye checkups every fortnight Saturday and glaucoma screening; partnership with Ibadan South-west Local Government Primary Health Care Department for the provision of free immunisation to children aged 0-59 months in the INVIVO store in Ibadan.
‘’Other benefits include HIV/hepatitis B screening; reproductive, maternal and child services, counseling and advice on family planning and contraceptive use, body mass index calculation and weight management counseling and its subsequent follow-up on high risk obesity patients for cardiovascular risk assessment, among others,’’ he said.
He said INVIVO’s expansion plans include 500 stores across Nigeria and then reach at least 500,000 Nigerians, adding that in just one year the three stores have treated over 10,000 patients through the initiative.
On using the initiative to curb drug abuse in the country, the Director said when people come in to purchase drugs, that there were ready pharmacists on ground to chat with them, and then offer best advice on which drug to take. ‘’We want to discourage abuse of drugs, hence our resolve to give drugs only on prescription from their doctors or our in-house doctors. Even for drugs that are not prescription drugs, we make sure we discus with the patients to know why they actually need the drugs. We don’t just give them drugs, we try to have a relationship with everybody that accesses our services, as well as follow them up till they get well,’’ he explained.
In an interactive session with the doctor in charge of INVIVO clinic in The Palms (Shoprite), Ibadan, Dr. Funto Ogundapo, while explaining that the clinic has been designed to work as a primary health centre, she said since last year April when the health facility opened in the ancient city, over 3,000 patients have been treated for different ailments at very affordable price, adding that it has in no small measure impacted on the health of residents of the city.
According to her, when INVIVO opened in Ibadan, she realised that the people were more health conscious about their health than envisaged. “These people are actually concerned about their health, only that they never knew where to go to for it. Now they troop in here for various kinds of consultations and treatment.
“So far, we have used this initiative to reduce morbidity in this city,’’ she concluded.