Nearly two decades ago, Dr. Elliott Scott Omose planted his first business – EC Bio Health Venture – in Nigeria, after over thirty years of entrepreneurial sojourn in the United Kingdom. Today, he is the chairman and CEO of the Elkris Group which encompasses various organizations that cut across various fields of the society. These include PreDiagnosis International, Elkris Bio Health Foods, Elkris Agro Development Nig. Ltd, Elkris Benevolent Foundation, Stop Diabetes Foundation, EC Bio Health Venture and PDI Pharmacy-Plus Ltd. His foray and astuteness in the areas of food, nutrition, public healthcare management and corporate leadership across Africa remains on the ascendancy. Since 2020, Dr. Omose has, through his innovative health-based, non-profit organisation, PreDiagnosis International, single-handedly financed several sustainable health projects targeted at vulnerable Nigerians and Africans in general, with the objective of providing basic heath support to 2 million Nigerians annually and 50 million Africans. The organisation is today firmly established in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia and a few other African countriesIn this media chat, he shares his views on sundry issues from personal business experience to management of public health in Africa, among others. Excerpts…
What was your major motivation to focus most of your social interventions and business investments in the area of public health management?
About 15 years ago, I stumbled on something that changed my life and passion forever. In Africa, “primary healthcare” is non-existent as soon as you start to move away from the capital cities. Our research across the continent reveals an unhealthy pattern whereby pharmacies and local drugs stores have been adopted as grassroots (primary) healthcare point by close to 70% of the population in the continent.In rural Africa, a patient may never get to see or sit before a doctor more than five times in his or her life-time. And that is usually as a result of some intervention outreach by an NGO. For the rest of their lives, they are left at the mercy of pharmacy attendants and quacks as the only alternative to a GP. Growing rate of organ damages such as steep rise in kidney failure in Africa is a direct result. I discovered that a mere basic free BP screening outreach was powerful enough to mean that lives who could have gone to an early grave had the chance to continue to walk the streets in Africa, for a few more years. Very quickly, the vision grew beyond just free BP screening. We went on to discover that with very little financial outlay we could do a lot more toward managing the day-to-day personal basic healthcare needs of the vulnerable African population, by way of early detection and early intervention. From that point on, my vision and area of interest were formed.
At what point did you conceive the PDI idea as the flagship of your pan-African public health management advocacy intervention?
Immediately the area of interest crystallized for me, it was not difficult to conceive an appropriate platform to drive it. So, conceiving PreDiagnosis International was a natural statement of intention to specifically create a model that would enable us to be able to do something about the situation. A wise man once said; “the diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart attack, cancer and kidney failure of today, was nothing more than mere seed, yesterday”. In forming PDI, this statement instantly became the core around which the initiative would revolve. The PDI mantra – Reach, Rescue and Fortify – was also brought about by the poignancy of that wise man’s saying on my humanist side.So, we visualized an alternative basic healthcare model and came up with a grassroots-focused basic healthcare structure that is customized to suit the peculiarities of the African terrain. For about a decade before we actually came out, PDI worked and perfected a grassroots basic healthcare delivery model that is designed to bridge this growing GAP between the urban and the hard-to-reach areas, between the haves and the have-nots, in the continent of Africa. We came up with what has become known as the “PDI 25-point Early Detection System” The idea is to try to possibly neutralize the potential diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart attack, cancer and kidney failure before they could become unmanageable.
Are there specific ailments you have found to be more prevalent among the vulnerable population and deserving of more urgent intervention?
In Nigeria for example, more than 53 million people are living with life-threatening high blood pressure status; untreated, uncontrolled and majority of them are not aware. This is deadly. One of the strategies we have mapped out to help ameliorate this deadly situation is through the birth of the Community Blood Pressure Advocacy Initiative (COBPA). It is an initiative set up specifically to leverage the average Nigerian to sensitize their rural communities on the dangers of High Blood Pressure through which the sudden death and sudden slump syndrome owing to unmanaged Blood Pressure can be arrested without delay. Through the COBPA Initiative, we are currently able to reach, rescue and manage the BP Health of 500,000 Nigerian BP Patients yearly free of charge. We recruit and maintain thousands of trained and certified Auxiliary BP reps in communities across Nigeria to undertake this assignment.With this intervention, we are able to achieve the prevention of 1000 needless death on a daily basis. We are already working on introducing same approach in other African countries to help manage this menace across the continent
You recently planted PDI in Sierra Leone. What informed that decision?
The sole aim for birthing the PDI platform is premised on total dedication to bridging the gaps created by the inadequacy of primary healthcare structure in Nigeria and by extension Sub-Saharan Africa.According to a 2020 study, Sierra Leone is believed to have just about three (3) doctors per 100,000 individuals, the lowest density of medical doctors anywhere in West Africa. In a way, one was shocked to learn of this fact because it is almost an automatic death sentence for the really “vulnerable” segment of the Sierra Leone population. Sierra Leone remains a country associated with one of the highest poverty rates as well as record number of malaria infection annually in West Africa. This is further compounded by a disturbing rate of maternal and child/infant mortality, unchecked death rates resulting from lower respiratory infections, diarrhea, cholera, tuberculosis, stroke, etc; and all these on the backdrop of an ever-growing population.With all these, we were disturbed to think more and more people are going to continue to die unnecessarily, unless somebody starts to think outside the box, in an attempt to try to bridge the widening gap between the teaming “vulnerable” population of Sierra Leone and access to affordable basic (primary) healthcare. The government alone, cannot bring about the needed changes and we are persuaded to believe that not everything should be left to the government to tackle.
How has the experience been, given that you would be seen as an outsider?
We chose to come up with a blue-print for a nationwide Basic (Primary) Healthcare Initiative aka “Community Basic (Primary) Healthcare Clinic” – CBHC. Our initiative is designed to disrupt a sizeable number of preventable-death, by way of “early detection and early intervention” healthcare practices, through our community basic healthcare clinics, nationwide. That was how, early this year, we birthed the “PDI UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE PLAN” a concept of Twenty-Four-Seven ACCESS to Doctors and affordable Basic (Primary) Healthcare Services, for the teaming population of vulnerable Sierra Leoneans. It is a replica of the PDI ALTERNATIVE BASIC PRIMARY HEALTHCARE MODEL that we launched in Nigeria in 2020. And the results have been heartwarming. There has been massive embrace of our intervention by the generality of the people.
What similarities or differences have you discovered in your Basic Healthcare Model and those of countries and states where you currently operate the PDI Model?
The chief reason why healthcare remains a challenge throughout Africa, is the fact that African countries are good at setting up general hospitals and teaching hospitals yet failed each time it comes to primary healthcare. As a result, the general hospitals and teaching hospitals are continually overwhelmed. Most of the available qualified doctors are concentrated in urban cities and towns while the rural areas have next to nothing, thereby leaving room for self-medication and also for quacks and other unqualified hands to tend citizens’ health needs. As at today, most Public Health Centres, especially in rural areas, rot away due to lack of capable personnel to man them.Moreover, before the vulnerable class make it to those facilities, majority of their cases are already beyond help. Public healthcare services delivery must therefore move from the physical, brick and mortar format to a more tech-driven approach. Today, through our hybrid Basic Public Health model, PDI provides FREE Doctors’ personal health management services (24/7) to at least 2 million vulnerable population across Africa yearly. We get the job of consultation, prescription and personal health management done, over the phone, video, chat, through our walk-in clinics, medical outreaches, pharmacies collaboration outlets, etc. And, without external donations or funding. We are currently doing this in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia, and a few other African countries.