Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Doctor Salisu's Hospital
My interview with Dr. Salisu
As Americans, we can take for granted our access to safe health care. Even people without health insurance can still see a doctor when they are sick.

In Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, having a doctor or any kind of health care nearby is still very much a luxury. But that's changing in the northern part of the country.

Recently, I visited a hospital in Katsina State near the border of the Niger Republic. I spoke with Dr. Salisu Barau Banye, who was born and raised in Katsina and has practiced medicine in the area for more than 25 years. When many of his generation were leaving Nigeria for opportunities abroad, Dr. Salisu chose to stay and serve his community.

Dr. Salisu works at Katsina General Hospital, which is considered a shining star for health care in northern Nigeria. People travel there from neighboring Nigerian states and even the Niger Republic. The tiny hospital treats 1,500 people a day and is open nearly around the clock. Just eight years ago, the hospital did not have a clean water supply, consistent electric power or adequate staff. But the government of Katsina State has invested millions of dollars into health care, and Dr. Salisu's patients are beginning to thrive. Like many places in Africa, the plague of poverty is the doctor's biggest foe. Infections, malaria, food-borne illnesses and malnutrition are some of the major maladies in Katsina.

Dr. Salisu and his colleagues say they are continuing to provide the three A's of health care: availability, accessibility and affordability. Thanks to funding from the Katsina State Government the hospital provides:

Free prenatal care and delivery
Free kidney dialysis
Free treatment of malaria
Free emergency treatment of accident victims
Discounted prescription medicines

New equipment, facilities, ambulances, better-trained doctors, nurses and midwives, improved immunizations and even a state-of-the-art intensive care unit have created an oasis of high-quality health care in a very rural area.

It's now Dr. Salisu's goal to bring more primary-care facilities to villages so people will not have to travel as far to be treated for more common illnesses. Easy access to health care is improving in this part of the world. Can you get medical care when you need it where you live?
When comparing American poverty to African poverty, it doesn't matter how bad we Americans think we may have it here, there is always some else who is worst off then we are. People here in American who live in poverty still live like Kings compared to people in African poverty. I guess a lot of people who give to charities know that, and that's why Africa comes first.
Dr.Salisu is a hero.
Ann, I wish I could agree with you that Africa comes first. The truth is that the 80/20 rule is in full effect. The wealthiest 20% of the world receive 80% of the resources and other 80% receive about 20% of the resources. It all has to change so that we're contributing to the general population so that those who do not have can afford. The effort of people like Dr. Salisu is highly commendable because the conditions demand a lot of patience and heart.
May God bless Dr. Salisu and all of his staff and may God bless Btesy for reporting some good news from Africa.
That's very interesting Grace. Thanks for the comment. Maybe more Doctor Salisu's will come along, if the world gets lucky.
It was said that in America "Even people without health insurance can still see a doctor when they are sick."
I guess that depends on where you live and/or who you are.
Things are not the way they used to be. If you don't have health insurance, and you don't have the money UP FRONT to pay for the office visit at the time services are to be rendered, 9 times out of 10- if not 10 out of 10- you're NOT seeing that doctor no matter how sick you are. Wait- can go to the ER and incur a hospital bill that can't be paid and will more likely than not get sued over....
Not to mention, it's the uninsured (who is the one least likely that can afford it) who is held responsible to pay 100% of the padded medical bill. Yes, medical providers/facilities have admitted to padding their bills (to recoup the loss, so to speak, from the contracts that allow insurance carriers and the gov't to pay sometimes less than 50-60% or more of the bill). Example: office visit is $125. HMO/insurance pays $45; the rest is written off. Office visit is $75. Insurance pays doctor $25; rest is written off. Office visit is $110, the uninsured person pays: $110.
I used my own Explanation of Benefits as the example.
Maryland claims that no child shall be uninsured. Please don't believe that: including myself, I know several single parents that have uninsured children because they absolutely can't afford the health insurance at work but they don't qualify for medical coverage from the State because they "make too much," even for the coverage that requires payment of a low monthly premium to the State.
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