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Corporate Wellness: A Solution for Nigeria’s Problematic Health System

By Obi Igbokwe
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WellNewMe – Lagos, Nigeria – 2 June 2015 - Corruption, under funding, constant strikes and sever brain drain have left Nigeria’s health system constantly hanging at the edge of a major total collapse.

In May, 2015 the chairman of the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria, AGPMPN, Dr. Adeyeye Arigbabuwo, said currently, Nigeria has just 9,000 doctors serving over 160 million people. He explained that the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN has on their register 65,000 doctors, out of which 40,000 are practicing in the Diaspora.

Of the 25,000 doctors currently practicing in Nigeria, 16,000 are resident doctors who he said may decide to leave on completion of their training, leaving the country with 9,000 doctors.

All these have left a lot of Nigerians scrambling, seeking quality service from a system that is near death itself. Invariably it stands to reason that the sensible way to maintain good health is to make sure one does not fall ill. It also helps to keep in mind that 50% of all illnesses are down to poor lifestyle choices and hence preventable.

Obesity and related conditions are rising in Nigeria and many workplaces are now sedentary settings and often provide easy access to energy-dense food and beverages. As a result, workplaces are contributing to the increase in obesity.

Obesity has been linked to numerous chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis and some cancers. According the WHO, about 46% of adult Nigerians have hypertension, and it can be attributed to the changing Westernized lifestyle seen in urban cities.

Corporate or workplace wellness offers a way out for Nigerians in the urban areas. A sizeable number of urban residents are actively employed and spend most of their waking hours working. Corporate wellness is any workplace health promotion activity or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior in the workplace and to improve health outcomes.

In other words, it is a conscious effort by employers to improve the health of all its employees whether through health fairs, health education, medical screenings, healthy office snack delivery services, health coaching, weight management programs, wellness newsletters, on-site fitness programs and/or facilities and educational programs.

According to Dr. Obi Igbokwe, a medical doctor and founder of WellNewMe.com, a corporate wellness solutions company based in Lagos, “Employers by implementing population-based programmes including health risk appraisals and health screenings in combination with goal-oriented interventions will invariably be contributing towards building a healthier society.”

“Employees will also be able to pass on what they learnt and changes that they made in their lifestyle to families and friends, and they in turn on to others. It might not solve all the problems we have with the health sector in this country but it will be a start towards the right direction. An emphasis on preventive medicine is what we really need in Nigeria given the resources we have on hand and corporate wellness programmes fit into that category ” he added.

He also stated that beyond helping their employees and the society at large, they were added economic benefits for companies that implement employee wellness programmes. Dr. Igbokwe said”In 2012, Chevron Nigeria reported that after implementing a wellness programme for its employees, it had an 80 percent drop in the of lost days due to illness and also had a significant drop in its health costs, which goes to show how endemic it is that many employees are not just taking good care of themselves and it is affecting their productivity.”

Indeed, there is now strong evidence that an employee’s health status can impair day-to-day work performance and have a negative effect on job output and quality. Research is showing that it’s more cost-effective to invest in preventive health practices rather than spending resources exclusively on the small minority of employees/dependents who are responsible for high-cost health claims.

A report by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also revealed that at companies with fitness regimes as part of their wellness programmes, healthcare costs decreased from 20 to 55%, short-term sick leave was lowered from 38 to 32%, and productivity increased from 50 to 52%.

More information about WellNewMe and corporate wellness can be found on the company website: www.wellnewme.com

For more information contact
Dr. Obi Igbokwe
Founder/CEO
WellNewMe.com
+234 814 120 1011
[email protected]