Health care is a human right, should be available to all, says Dr. Samson Shonowo
Nigerian Doctor Samson Shonowo is known as “The Street Doctor” for his practice of taking on surgical cases from patients from the inner cities and poor communities in Lagos and treating then for free.
The 37 year-old doctor, resigned from the state General hospital where he had worked as a house officer for seven years to set up a hospital in the Agege area of Lagos, 4 years ago.
Dr. Shonowo recounted the severe case of inguinal hernia that inspired him to embark on his mission in an interview, saying the man was an Okada (commercial motorcycle) rider and he had been living with the condition for more than 10 years.
The hernia had grown so big that the patient no longer had sexual functions and he was at a risk of losing his life. He needed surgery but he could not afford it.
Dr. Shonowo decided after examining him, to do the surgery without charge. Since then, over a thousand free surgeries have been performed from 2016 to date, ranging from hernias, fibroids, breast lump removals and mastectomies.
“My hospital is located in Agege because that is my community. Those are my people. I live with them and I see their pain. If I can do something about it, then I should,” he said.
The Shonowo Hospital Free Surgery program started in December 2016 and caters to patients from all over the state and beyond who cannot afford hospital fees. Consultations, examinations and treatment are carried out without any charge.
In February, Dr Shonowo opened the Free Breast Lump removal for women in indigent communities as part of his commitment to fight the prevalence of breast cancer. 350 women were treated under this program.
Speaking about the program, Dr. Shonowo says “Breast cancers account for over 50% of all female malignancies. The costs of mammograms range between N3,500- N6,000 naira depending on the center.
In a country like Nigeria with per capita income of less than $1 per day, most patients cannot afford the cost. So we must pay attention to preventive measures. One of such preventive measures I have decided to tackle is screening for lumps and removing all lumps to significantly reduce cancer morbidity and mortality.”
On the state of healthcare in Nigeria, Dr. Shonowo says the Nigerian government should focus on primary healthcare and community based/preventative care.
“Primary care is important and more resources must be dedicated to the primary care centers. There is no reason why primary care should not be free for all Nigerians. It is the basic human right for every Nigerian to be able to access quality primary healthcare.” he said.
The Shonowo Free Surgery Program for hernia repairs will open this November and Dr Shonowo says registration is open and free for everyone.
Intending patients are encouraged to register on the hospital website www.shonowohospital.com