There was a lot of excitement in the air as the 2016 edition of the Nigeria Healthcare Excellence Awards (NHEA) kicked off at the Eko Convention Centre in Lagos. With a live band playing oldies in one corner and the lights dimmed in the decorated dinner hall, it was difficult to imagine that the dapper suit wearing men and evening gown donned ladies were doctors and pharmacists, nurses and dentists.
You could feel that expectations were high. With four main categories and 31 sub-categories in this year’s awards, the bar of excellence had been raised even higher. As colleagues filed into the room, Comedian Seyi Law had a few jokes to help settle everyone in before the event kicked off in earnest.
For several nominees, it would not be their first time attending the Awards, which was first held in 2014, and is the brain-child of Dr. Wale Alabi, CEO of Global Health Project and Resources (GHPR), and a small group of colleagues. The NHE Awards have been called the “Oscars of Nigerian Healthcare”, and are held in collaboration with the Anadach Group, with partners this year including the Federal Ministry of Health and PharmAccess.
Vivian Alikali, Executive Secretary of the NHEA Organizing Committee, said the Awards were “born out of the need to recognize and appreciate personnel who were sold out to excellence, and had integrity. We also wanted to curb medical tourism, to show people that they can get their healthcare services here in Nigeria. We wanted people to appreciate their healthcare system again.”
Sproxil Nigeria Ltd took home the award for Innovative Healthcare Service Provider of the Year. While you may not have heard of the company, it’s likely that you may have used one of its services. Sproxil was founded in 2009 by Ashifi Gogo to empower consumers to help combat drug counterfeiting using a simple text message, sent by the consumer from a code on the product. The company’s Defender technology is now being used in eight countries, including Nigeria, to help consumers make sure that the drugs they are purchasing are genuine products. On the night, Chinedum Chijioke, Managing Director for Sproxil Nigeria, said, “We wanted to play a role to support regulators in fighting counterfeiting. With our service, we put the lives of citizens in their own hands, to check at the point of purchase that their drugs are genuine.”
The impact that they have had has been amazing. He said that on one trip, the CEO of a major Pharmaceutical company walked up to him at the airport and said, “Chinedum, thank you. We were almost shutting down until you guys came. Counterfeiters almost ruined our firm.” For Sproxil, it was a gratifying compliment.
Winning this year’s award was also a huge boost. “It was like, wow, gratifying, that people recognize what you do, and recognize you publicly,” Chijioke said, adding, “We are being watched and we have to do what we can to innovate and support companies who are dealing with issues around counterfeiting.”
Smile360 Dental Specialists went home with the award for Dental Service Provider of the Year for the second time in a row, having won the award in 2015. As the team of smiling ladies came up to the stage to receive their award, you could sense their pride in this accomplishment. “Every member of the team at Smile360 is extremely passionate and totally committed to creating wonderful smiles for all their patients,” the organisation’s website claims.
The Eye Foundation Hospital took home the award for Eye Care Service Provider of the Year. The hospital started in 1993 to provide eye care services comparable to those obtainable outside Nigeria. It is the first indigenous eye practice in the country that runs a group practice with many sub-specialized ophthalmologists. According to its website, the hospital has been fighting “preventable blindness in Nigeria and West Africa” for the past 20 years. It partners with other institutions to bring better eye care to the poor.
An interesting trend at the awards was that several organisations have taken home their category awards year after year. Pathcare Laboratories took home the award for Private Laboratory Service Provider of the Year for the third time in a row. Vivian Alikali suggests that “This is because their service delivery has been of a very high standard in their area of service. For example, if you look at Pathcare, the leading private sector laboratory services provider in Nigeria, there is no significant healthcare provider that does not deal with them. Their technology and service delivery is excellent. They have set the bar high, and it provides a challenge to other labs to up their game and achieve excellence. So the Awards stimulate healthy competition between colleagues and organisations which can only be good for the health sector.” Dr. Tolulope Adewole, quality and technical coordinator at Pathcare, thanked the organizers of the award for the recognition they gave to PathCare Nigeria and promised that the company will remain steadfast in its pursuit of quality service provision in the health sector.
Several other organisations continued their winning streak for the third time, including Healthplus Pharmacy (Pharmaceutical Retail Outlet of the Year), Reddington Hospital in Lagos ( Private Healthcare Provider of the Year), and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, which again bagged the award for Tertiary Healthcare Provider of the Year.
Always winning! Total Health Trust wins Health Maintenance Organization of The Year Award. pic.twitter.com/3ubSPRqQDx
— Total Health Trust (@THTcares) June 28, 2016
There were some surprises as well. In the category of Health Maintenance Organisation (HMO) of the Year, Hygeia HMO had taken the award for 2014 and 2015. However this year the award was won by Total Health Trust. “We were really impressed,” Alikali said, adding, “We are happy that people are waking up to the fact that they need to improve their services and they can be rewarded for it.” The HMO space is one that definitely needs competition, as the industry has really not progressed as was envisaged.
There were special moments during the event. One of those was the presentation of Lifetime Achievement Awards to the two recipients nominated for this year’s event; Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, OFR, mni, and Professor Olu Akinyanju, (OON). Their biographies, read before they were given the award, highlighted their long service and commitment to the improvement of the health sector.
There were also big awards for the night. The award for Outstanding Corporate Social Responsibility Project of the Year went to the Dangote Foundation, which is building a state of the art hospital in Kano, amongst other projects. There were loud cheers when the Ondo State Trauma and Surgical Centre was announced as the winner of the award for Outstanding State Healthcare Programme of the Year. From all indications, Ondo is at the helm of excellent healthcare delivery in the public sector in Nigeria, and this award only buttresses that fact.
JNC International Ltd. took home the award for Biomedical Engineering Service Provider of the year and Swiss Biostadt Limited bagged the award for Hospital Equipment Marketing Company of the year for the second year each. For Pharmaceutical Operation Excellence for Manufacturing Companies, the award went to Mopson Pharmaceuticals Ltd., whereas for Excellence in Pharmaceutical Research and Development, May and Baker took home the award for the second time.
The Awards also recognized those in the media who had shown excellence in reporting on the healthcare sector in Nigeria. Habibat Basanya of TVC News won the Healthcare Media Excellence Award for Electronic Media, while Martins Ifijeh of ThisDay won the Award for the Print sub-category.
In an industry and sector which is prone to stories of what has gone wrong and what is not working, the Nigerian Healthcare Excellence Awards was a breath of fresh air. It highlighted some of the excellent work happening in the Nigerian health sector, albeit mostly in the private sector. The Awards allowed colleagues to praise each other for work well done, to showcase how they are becoming better at providing excellent care to Nigerians in Nigeria… which is the reason we are here in the first place.
See the full list of Award Winners.