Healthcare In Africa 2022
After a near-death experience around the age of 13, I promised that if I grew up to see adulthood, I would become a doctor to learn to save lives. I grew up in rural Nigeria and started having difficulty breathing around age 5 or 6 but it was several years before I was given a diagnosis of asthma.That was how my journey in medicine started; those early childhood experiences of utter terror from not being able to draw a breath gave me the passion to pursue quality healthcare delivery to all my patients, especially for the underprivileged and for those with limited access to quality care.
Two months ago, I got the call from Nigeria that all of us dread to receive. My 87 year old mother had fallen in her garden and couldn’t get up. When I spoke to her, she could hardly articulate her thoughts from all the pain she was having. It was late on a Saturday afternoon and for different reasons we are all familiar with in Nigeria, she couldn’t go to the hospital that night due to safety and other considerations. Needless to say, she was eventually diagnosed with a fractured hip. I became very worried because a hip fracture in the elderly, especially where there is limited know-how, carries a very bad prognosis. Even the young doctor that took my call told me that her life expectancy after surgery was just six months. I knew this statistic because I was taught this as a medical student in Nigeria in the 1980’s. Sadly this was still true 40 years later.
I founded an independent primary care practice,Crown Clinic, in Charlotte, NC in 2003. More recently I also founded SocratesMD, a telemedicine platform that harnesses digital technology to bring world class healthcare to sub saharan Africa using African born physicians and other healthcare professionals. I reached out to my colleagues in the SocratesMD network who connected me to a UK-trained Orthopedic surgeon whose hospital was in a nearby town. After the necessary arrangements, my mother transferred to his hospital the next day and received the same quality of care she would have received had she been here in the USA or in the UK. She started physical therapy the next day and was discharged from the hospital within a week. Team Socrates came through for me.
The anxiety that we as Nigerians in the diaspora have about the health of our loved ones back home is real. We have all walked in those shoes. SocratesMD was founded to give you peace of mind when it comes to the health of your loved ones. From direct consultations to help manage complicated chronic diseases, to second opinion consultations, to referrals to specialists, SocratesMD does it all. We have developed (and are still developing) a robust ecosystem of hospitals, pharmacies, labs and diagnostic centers within Nigeria to deliver the same quality of care to your loved ones that you have come to expect here. We can also arrange to ship quality generic medications from the USA to your loved ones back home.
When I founded SocratesMD, my dream was to give back to the country that gave so much to me. To be one more solution to the myriad of problems that beset healthcare delivery in Nigeria. My intentions were honorable. Little did I know I would be saving my own mother. I would love the opportunity to share more on your podcast.
Obinna C. Oriaku, MD MBA
Dr. Oriaku is the Founder and CEO of Crown Clinic, P. A. a primary care practice
based in Charlotte NC. He recently founded SocratesMD, a telemedicine platform delivering world-class healthcare to sub-Saharan Africa. He is a physician executive with strong communication and analytic skills leading to effective change management. His special interests include healthcare delivery in resource-challenged populations, and bridging gaps in healthcare disparity in target populations. He is available as a speaker on issues that are of interest to him.
SocratesMD email: support@socratesMD.com