…praise’s the healthcare sector.
Rates Nigerian health professionals’ as brilliant and Knowledgeable.
The first-time contact with Rotarian (Chief) Anil Grover, founder of Grover Medical and Diagnostic Limited, an Indian, a Nigerian chieftaincy titleholder, gives one an impression of meeting and interacting with a typical professional born and brought up in the streets of Nigeria. He freely mixes with the people of different shades, coloration, and persuasion. He does not appear, nor strike one, as a non-Nigerian, who migrated into the country from his native northern hemisphere of India, less than two decades ago. He has bedded well into the country’s culture, adopted fully into the peoples’ nuances, norms, lifestyle, and idiosyncrasies generally.
He compares his observations about the similarities and differences between the two countries, (Nigeria and India), to FEFERITY MAGAZINE with a broad smile of admiration, during an interview in the middle of a marathon meeting with the Lagos State Task Force/NCDC on the management of the COVID-19 pandemic: ‘Essentially, Nigeria and India share very many similarities, both cultural, geographical, and social’, he says. ‘These similarities’, he believes, coupled with his ‘many African associates helped him to sink well into the Nigerian society’.
He spoke about the culture of the two countries. ‘Both have a lot of similarities. Both countries have a lot of things which are in common. Before going to the differences, let me highlights the similarities first.
‘Both countries have different zones. Like you have north, south, and east. We have multi-cultural languages. We have multi-cultural food habits. The way people dress up. Their lifestyle is diverse in both countries. Both countries follow the democratic system. Both the country the leaders, the PM, or President and the Senate are elected by the people of the country. Both were ruled by the British colonial in those days. Both countries have seen initial struggles after the world wars. Both countries have a very similar culture when it comes to under-developed or developing nations. One other similarity is that the freedom of the press is the same both in the two countries and another one is in the tropical region, the hot and cold weather.
‘Now if we talk about the differences, I will say the major differences are in religion. In India, the majority of the people follow the Hindu religion or Buddha religion or Sikh religion. These are the basic religion. Although some, the percentages are small, follow Islam, and also very few follow Christianity.
‘Another difference I will say in both countries is in the form of feeding habits, our staple food. The majority of people in India prefer to eat wheat. The wheat bread or dishes made with wheat. Wheat is our staple food. But in Nigeria the staple food is rice and cassava’, he said.
I have visited all the States’ capitals in Nigeria; name it, Benin, Sokoto, Kano, Umuahia, Oshogbo, Akure, every one of them’, he gleefully told FEFERITY MAGAZINE. I lived in Port Harcourt (Rivers State) and Umuahia (Abia State) and also Akure, (Ondo State), for many months working with the State governments on Private Partnership Programme (PPP). Besides this again, I so much relishes several African dishes.
Chief Grover Anil a seasoned ‘healthcare entrepreneur’, has been involved in healthcare management since 1999, when he first visited the country as a consultant to the Federal Ministry of Health on the management of HIV/AIDS infection. He was to finally move with his family to Nigeria in the year 2004.
He gleefully recounts to FEFERITY MAGAZINE, ‘I was born and brought up in India. About two decades ago, I migrated to Africa along with my family. We initially lived in Nairobi, Kenya East Africa with my family and later migrated to Lagos, Nigeria in 2004, full time.
Chief Grover, says he is ‘always very passionate and proud of Nigeria’. And to give back to the society, set up a 20-member Medical Outreach Team in 2017. The team, comprising Medical Doctors, Pharmacists, Diagnostics specialists, Nurses, and other sundry professionals, has been engaging in free health delivery in many communities in Lagos State. The team is headed by his wife, Dr. (Mrs.) Arvinder Grover.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in the Country, Chief Anil Grover has been of immense assistance to the team battling to curtail the wild spread of the virus in Lagos State. He is the lead project coordinator for Lagos State Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as part of his social responsibility and personal commitment to healthcare as well as the wellbeing of the community. By this, he is an integral part of the Task Force, working assiduously in Lagos State to curtail the spread of the pandemic.
Chief Anil’s activities in Nigeria have generally, not gone unnoticed by both the government and the people. He said the way the Nigerian government and the people have been treating his voice on medical issues with respect, were part of the factors that propelled his wife, also a medical doctor, Dr. (Mrs) Arvinder Grover, to suggest that instead of relocating back to his native India once he clocked 50 years in the year 2016, he should stay back in Nigeria and invest in the healthcare infrastructure of the country. He was already thinking of relocating back to India to spend his retirement life in his native village. He now proudly sees and presents himself as a Nigeria of Indian origin.
Not too surprising though, Chief Grover is bothered about the growing trend of medical tourism in the Country. ‘It is a very obvious thing’, he opined. ‘People know about it all over the world. Here in Nigeria healthcare infrastructure are not up to the mark. The hospitals are lacking adequate advanced equipment and technologies, unlike in the western world. People now prefer to go outside the country for secondary operations and tertiary surgeries in those Countries with modern equipment and better technology.’
His association with the Nigerian healthcare professionals has created a huge impression on him about their knowledge and capabilities in the field. ‘You can only imagine what our healthcare professionals could do if we have a good infrastructure with good equipment with modern technology here in Nigeria. Our doctors here are very intelligent and deeply knowledgeable about medical practices. The only missing ingredients are technology and training.
The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has actually over tested the healthcare delivery infrastructure in Nigeria, as both the diagnostic and care sector are lacking in critical modern equipment. Reviewing this, Chief Grover, with the benefit of hindsight, he takes a critical look at the available healthcare infrastructure in the country.
He gave thumbs up to the Federal Government, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and the Lagos State government for the swiftness with which they reacted to the spotting of the index patient of the virus in the country. ‘If we compare the reaction here with that of some European countries or even the United States, the action taken here by the NCDC is very okay. They acted very promptly.’
However, with his deep knowledge of the country’s healthcare system, he has identified ‘two critical challenges facing the sector’ and was of the opinion that if these two challenges are well sorted out, the human capital is there to do even better than their colleagues in Europe and the United States.
Chief Grover has been a big player in the country’s healthcare sector for well over 15 years. He told FEFERITY MAGAZINE that the biggest challenge he noticed the healthcare sector is facing in the country, is that the capital financing is not easily available for healthcare entrepreneurs to upgrade available infrastructure to the level of those available in Europe and the United States, even in South Africa.
He always takes pride in his involvement in the healthcare delivery sector of the country, ‘I have been associated with medical diagnostic business and healthcare service delivery, hospital industry and medical services delivery for more than a decade’.
He has a word of advice to the banking sector, ‘show more interest in the healthcare sector, by way of offering more financial support’.
‘Most of the Nigerian banks do not see the healthcare sector as a good enterprise business to invest in. There is no support for the healthcare entrepreneurs for the development and building of robust healthcare infrastructure in Nigeria’, he further bemoaned.
Aside from the poor financial support from the banks, he is also far from being impressed by the imposition of high excise and import duties on medical equipment and consumables by the Federal Government. In his words, ‘this singular act, also can discourage potential entrepreneurs from investing in the sector’.
‘From the government side, the high excise and import duties on medical equipment and medical consumables is a very big roadblock. The custom duties are very high if somebody wants to import medical equipment, medical consumables, and new technology. If you want to invest in these to Nigeria the customs duties are very high. This may serve as a deterrent for the people who wish to invest in this country.’
Chief Anil Grover, a proud alumni and a governing council member of the prestigious Lagos Business School (LBS), also believes that “if necessary infrastructural facilities are built, our professionals can handle just any medical exigencies, thereby cutting off the need to waste scarce foreign exchange on medical tourism”. He was the first Indian to attend and complete a Masters degree at the Lagos Business School (LBS) in Nigeria.
“…the government must do more in the sector. The practitioners need help, they need encouragement to stand on to perform wonders, he concluded”
Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria
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