Made in Lagos Doctors

Anthony Kila applauds the initiative of the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in Lagos state to establish a Medical University solely for the production of 1,500 medical doctors annually in the Centre of Excellence.

Dear Governor BabajideSanwo-Olu,

The news that Lagos state, under your stewardship and in this year, will set up a medical varsity that will produce 1,500 medical doctors yearly is arguably the best news we, as a people, have received in 2024. Yes, I know the year is just five days old today, and a lot can still happen, but for me the year is already used, not a new year anymore and I have started my count down so for me it 361 days to go.

Whilst at it, let us clarify three basic points here before we procced. Firstly, “we as a people” refers not just to the people of Lagos, who undoubtedly will be the first and most positively affected people by the Made in Lagos Doctors initiative but also the rest of Nigeria and potentially other parts of the world as we shall soon see.

Secondly, the use of the term “stewardship” here is deliberate and I am using it in the theological sense to remind us of the notion of human and personal accountability and responsibility for the management of the earth, all its resources and any idea of gift that we encounter in the world.

Yes, I am still in the mood, Christmas was just a few days ago and I did see the Governor in church clasping his hands and nodding a lot during the service as he seemed to intensely follow the mass.

Thirdly, this idea is the best news of the year, so far, not just because most other news items have been so far sad or discouraging but because it is in itself a good idea.

So, this is not the case of a good student looking bright because he or she is placed in a dull class but the story of a good student by any standard…This Made in Lagos Doctors idea merits the best idea of the year so far not only because it objectively meets a cogent need of Lagos State and the whole country but also because it showcases a thinking method that I consider crucial for development and prosperity.

The theological notion of stewardship and the secular concept of strategic thinking have one striking element in common: the ability to analyse real and critical elements and variables with a bid not only to solve problems that might turn drama into disaster but ultimately turn challenges into opportunities.

I sincerely hope other States in the federation think of imitating and even emulating the Made in Lagos Doctors initiative. If they don’t then Lagos should be prepared and positioned to export to them.

A cursory look at the Nigerian economy and budget and their juxtaposition with the economies and budgets of the foreign countries that Nigerian doctors and other health practitioners want to emigrate to will readily show any one capable of critical thinking that there is no way that Nigerian hospitals can compete with what foreign hospitals are willing to pay for doctors and other medical practitioners.

In such situation, the modern, dynamic, sustainable and efficient solution is not stopping doctors from leaving the country as some dull legislators have proposed or vexatiously declare that Nigeria has more than enough doctors like the former Labour Minister, Dr Chris Ngige, spurted.

The modern, dynamic, sustainable and efficient solution to the exodus of doctors and other medical practitioners is to analyse and understand our reality which is made of a very high population of young people, low cost of labour and other factors of production and then procced to produce more doctors and other medical practitioners.

Not say it, do it. You, Mr. Governor, have done well not only by showing your administration gets it, you have also been impressive by indicating when the project will be completed. Please don’t procrastinate and don’t postpone, this page will not be gentle with you if you fail to deliver that facility that can produce at least 1,500 doctors in 2024. Whilst your intention is clear and timed, details of your intention is still very sketchy and we look froward to getting more information.

At the moment, it is not clear if you want to establish a new medical varsity or you want to expand our existing Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). It is logical to assume that a new complex will be built, we would like to know where you want to locate the facility and why such location?

As we await your answers and further details of your plan, here are some tips for you and your team. Consider locating the new facility in an underdeveloped part of Lagos, that way the facility will take development and prosperity not disgruntlement to the residents. This project should not just train and produce medical doctors, you should expand your scope to train and produce other medical practitioners too. Not only doctors are leaving or planning to leave the country. The Made in Lagos Doctors initiative should not be seen or treated just as a medical programme but rather a huge social and economic project that will generate jobs and create wealth for Lagos.

I recommend you take a holistic approach and to go beyond your usual circle to deliberately seek for fresh ideas and input from diverse sectors of the society.

In choosing your contractors and consultants for the project, make it a point to listen to new people that you have not worked with so far.

Dear Mr. Governor, this is 2024, no single project or venture will succeed if it does not have a global outlook. Though this Made in Lagos Doctors initiative is for Lagos state, I strongly recommend that the curriculum and the whole process meet the best practices in the world.

There are still too many doctors and other medical practitioners that do not seem to understand that manifested empathy and compassion, time management and good communication skills, patient advocacy and patient centred care are crucial part of their profession.

Let this new Made in Lagos Doctors initiative change that and help us raise the standard in Nigeria. Whilst it is true that Nigerian hospitals cannot pay what doctors and other practitioners can earn elsewhere, it is however possible to consciously improve the conditions of medical students and practitioners. They deserve the best as they deal with the most precious asset we have: life.

Join me if you can on twitter @anthonykila to continue these conversations.

-Kila is Institute Director at CIAPS.

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