DokiLink online platform to link doctors, address medical
In a bid to reduce Medical Tourism by connecting with professional doctors and also sanitise the sector, an online professional network of doctors, DokiLink has been created.
Pioneered by a medical doctor, Niyi Osamiluyi, the electronic platform already has 11,000 verified Nigerian doctors, who have been sharing medical cases, getting second opinions from colleagues and accessing medical news and information.
Osamiluyi in a chat with The Guardian said the platform was created for three main reasons: to address medical tourism, dearth of doctors and to assist Youth Corper doctors during service to perform optimally. According to him, in 2014, it was reported that over $1 billion was spent by Nigerians on seeking care in other countries, with the 60 per cent of the amount spent in four major areas of healthcare, namely: Cardiology (heart related issues), orthopaedic, Renal (kidney) issues and cancer.
“We believe that an important way of reducing Medical Tourism is increasing visibility and connectivity among ourselves. In Nigeria, like a lot of other countries, doctors are not allowed to advertise, so we believe that a crucial starting point is to, at least make doctors more aware of what colleagues are doing and can do so that ultimately we can improve the referral pattern/system in Nigeria.
“At DokiLink, doctors are able to share the interesting cases they have handled with each other. This leads to a greater awareness among doctors of the treatment options available locally.”
He lamented the dearth of doctors and specialists, saying no one seems to be sure about the actual number of doctors in Nigeria, which would enable better planning, more efficient and maybe equitable allocation/distribution of human resources.
“The recently approved National Health Policy (NHP) states that there were about 65,000 doctors in Nigeria as at 2012 and that about 2,300 doctors are produced in Nigeria every year. Because I graduated as a medical doctor in Nigeria, I can easily tell that the figure for the total number of doctors in Nigeria is not correct. They are at best an estimate or extrapolation of all the doctors that have ever been produced in Nigeria.
“How do I know? Upon graduation, every doctor is issued a registration number by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN). When I simply multiply the number of years post my graduation by 2,300 and then add it to my registration number, the result is approximately what is presented as the number of doctors in Nigeria. The figure quoted does not take into consideration the number of doctors that have grown old and gone to ‘rest’. Neither does it discount doctors that have left the shores of Nigeria for the United Kingdom, United States of America, South Africa, and others.”
Osamiluyi hinted that every year, at least a quarter to a third of a graduating class travel out of the country in search of greener pastures. Some join non-governmental organisations and health maintenance organisations, while some even leave the health sector entirely.
“In my opinion, we probably have less than 35,000 doctors practising in Nigeria and who are responsible for the care of about 180 million people. That is, a doctor patient ratio of about 1: 5,000. The value in South Africa is 1: 1,300. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 1: 600. Among this, we have only about 53 Neuro surgeons and this includes those that have relocated to either South Africa, Canada or the United States. We have less than 2,000 Obstetricians & Gynaecologists available to provide specialist care to the 6.6 million births every year.”
“The question is, how can we optimise the limited human resources? How can we leverage the best brains we have? The answer we came up with was DokiLink. A platform to share medical cases and get second opinion from colleagues.
“For instance, how can a medical officer working as a youth corper and heading a hospital in Kaura Namoda outlook or Imeko leverage on the best medical brains we have in Nigeria? Who does he talk to if he needs advice or a colleague’s second opinion? DokiLink gives him a large network of Nigerian doctors to share his/her problem with. DokiLink, invariably enables the crowd sourcing of medical knowledge.”