Dr. Mustafa Ahsen is the general surgeon at Nizamiye Hospital, Abuja. In this interview with Godbless Eduviere, he sheds light on some of the medical breakthroughs at the hospital as well as some newspaper reports that a former minister’s son died at the hospital due to wrong prescriptions
Though your hospital is a pristine medical facility, there are insinuations that it is only suited for the wealthy. Do you agree with that?
I would like to start by correcting the impression that Nizamiye Hospital is suited for the wealthy. I say this because I was until recently the chief medical director of the hospital and to a large extent, I am conversant with all the happenings at the hospital. First, the hospital is established to render quality medical services with an emphasis on proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. We do not look at your societal status before admitting you to our hospital because that would be at variance with the ethics of the medical profession. But you could say given the massive investment that has been made in the hospital regarding equipment and experienced personnel; it would be assumed that our services would be out of reach of the ordinary people. But that is quite not the case.
Our first emphasis is service to humanity. Yes, we are in business to make a profit, but the profit aspect comes secondary. We have had cases where we admit patients, and after treatment, they can’t meet up with their financial obligations, and we didn’t raise a dust about it. We believe there is always a friendly way to settle issues and hence the various incentives we have in place.
For instance, there are some cases we realised some patients would not be able to make payment, we call in our sister organisation the Nigerian Tulip International Colleges Foundation to come to the rescue of such patients and in all honesty, we have not had any reason to be unruly to any patient because of unpaid medical bills. As compared to other private facilities, our services are quite affordable and within reach. There is no form of discrimination whatsoever, and as a fact, a large chunk of our patients are not extremely wealthy people. Most of them are average earners, and the relationship has been entirely mutual.
What about the bad press the hospital has received in recent times and of mention is the case of the son of a former minister who died here as a result of the wrong prescription?
Like I said to you earlier, the Nizamiye Hospital is not just a medical facility that is configured for profit making purposes. As a first, we are a compassionate organisation that is very much interested in saving lives. Our operational policy won’t allow us to turn back patients. We don’t believe that should be the case. What happens in most cases is that there is a culture of bad cases being referred to our hospital when all seem not to be going well. And since we can’t reject patients no matter the condition, there is a tendency for people to insinuate that the hospital could not save the life of Mr. A or B despite the quality of equipment they have and the manpower.
For us, our human resources criterion is such that for all the departments, there are highly experienced consultants as the head. I will use myself as an example. I have been in active practice as a general surgeon for the past 28 years working in various hospitals in Turkey. I have written medical articles on a broad range of subjects that includes; high-resolution ultrasonography in diagnosis of acute appendicitis, published in the journal of National Surgery vol. 13 no: 4 275-279, comparison of computed tomography with ultrasonography in obstructive jaundice, published in Journal of Trakya University, medical faculty, 13(3): 35-42. I have also made presentations on a broad range of complex medical topics.
Back to the question of the unfortunate death of the son of a former minister, I would like to state that nothing of such happened here. What happened was that the young man was brought here in an ambulance and coma. We took him to the Intensive Care Unit to resuscitate him. But it was already a bad case, and there was nothing we could do. In less than 30 minutes he passed on, and that was what happened. It wasn’t a case of the wrong prescription as reported in some newspapers. And interestingly, we have also had such cases in times past, and the patient is revived and living well now.
Are all the doctors Turkish?
All the doctors are not Turkish. We also have experienced Nigerian doctors as well. But for the major departments, the heads are hugely experienced Turkish consultants that have distinguished themselves in their areas of specialisation. That is not to say we do not have Nigerian doctors. We also have Nigerian doctors working and learning under the various Turkish consultants who in a way are strategic in that they are benefitting from the wealth of experience of these specialists. The bulk of our nursing staff are Nigerians.
As the general surgeon, what has the experience been like since you came to Nigeria?
I have been in Nigeria for the past five years. I was formerly the chief medical director of the hospital before I resigned my position to concentrate on surgical operations entirely as the general surgeon of the hospital. I would say that the experience has been quite an eye-opener for me. I have learned new things, and I have in collaboration with my colleagues broken new grounds medically. We have been able to perform complex medical surgeries. I will give one or two instances.
There was a case of a Lebanese man that was brought in with a bullet injury in the stomach. He was operated upon at another hospital, and it wasn’t successful, and he became bloated. There was a duodenal infection, and in the stomach region, it is one of the most complex cases. We set out to work, and to the glory of God, the open duodenal surgery was successful. We have also had prevalent cases of breast cancer. I must add that I have lost count of the number of breast cancer surgeries I have performed in the last three years. What we also do as a hospital is to educate our patients too. As I mentioned earlier, our primary motive is to save lives, and we do this in conjunction with our patients. The relevant authorities in Nigeria have also been incredible. They have given us all the necessary support possible.