DR BABAJIDE ALALADE, the quintessential obstetrics and gynecology specialist, who is UK based, but making productive waves globally in fertility assisted technology through his state- of- the- art In vitro fertilization (IVF) center, the Ask The Gynecologist Laboratory, in Lagos Nigeria, and the Ask The Gynecology Group, an online platform that is pulling gynecologists and patients together across the globe, says the hallmark of a good medical practitioner is the ability to combine public health with clinical practice.
Babajide, in an exclusive interview with Citizen Comfort disclosed that he has found a synergy between clinical practice and public health, using the platform of Ask The Gynecology Group to match clinical practice to public opinion and public experience.
Ask the Gynecology (ATG) Group
The ATG according to Dr Alalade, the O&G expert, with a Master’s degree in public health, is a game changer for his life. He recalled that ATG was a product of circumstance. According to him “at some point during the lowest point of my life, in 2013/ 14, when I was was going through a difficult divorce and was basically homeless, I had to sit down to think of what to do to change my situation to rewrite my story? What can I do to change my world? I cannot come and end like this. This is not what I’m designed for. If I moved five years from that time, where would I want to be? That was when I started the online group, Ask The Gynecologist”.
ATG idea didn’t just come from the blue but from Alalade’s association with a similar group Ask The Pediatrician. ATG provides a forum for doctors to interact with patient, for doctors to consult with patient and for doctor and patients to speak the same language in terms of context and shared experience.
Life is like Hourglass
The experience from the online group, according Alalade is awesome. “ATG has opened door to a different life for me. I think that the experience that I went through in the period of the divorce made me to understand and appreciate every day, that our life is like hourglass; You only know what is in the middle and what is down here but you don’t know what’s left. You know what you spent, you know what’s in the middle, but you don’t know what is left at the top that’s coming down. It might be one year left, one day left, 20 years left. What is in the middle is what you must make count. What is gone cannot be changed. So how can I change my life? So, I started the Ask the Gynecologist group online, talk about different things. And that has made me to do other stuff about business in medicine.
Ask The Gynecologist Group gives women a voice.
Dr Babajide Alalade says “ATG platform has provided an opportunity for me to give women a voice”. Many women can now express themselves in every area of their life. The platform is giving them the opportunity to communicate. And people have used that platform to forge lifelong friendships
Dr Babajide Alalade, the last of the five doctors of Baba (Dr) John Oyebiyi Akanbi Alalade, says medicine is like a default family career. According to him, five out of the six children of his late father are medical doctors. His father’s career influenced him greatly such that he followed the same course with that of his father. Like father like son, Babajide studied medicine at the University of Lagos just like dad did. Babajide specializes in obstetrics and gynecology just like dad did. According to the O&G expert the desire to be a doctor has always been there.
“My desire to be a doctor has always been there. I went to the Medical School, University of Lagos, which is the same school my father attended. I chose the school because my dad finished medical school there too. I was the last person to do medicine in the family. I love University of Lagos. There was no distraction for me. I was focused, studied very well. I wanted to excel because most of the professors knew my dad and I needed to impress them.”
“The next thing after I finished my medical school was that I went to United Kingdom and America, but I decided to stay in UK, as time went by. My first point of call was O&G. as a matter of fact, that was where I got my first observernship in UK at Whipp’s Cross Hospital in East London. That is where I started. I’ve been doing Obstetrics & Gynecology since year 2000.
Dr Babajide Alalade, the O&G specialist who runs an IVF center and laboratories for AsktheGynaecologist Nigeria, also does training courses to trade in stocks and forex online at spare time, as well as writes books.
Every woman is designed to get pregnant at appropriate time if so desire. There are causes for inability to get pregnant and until the cause(s) are established, infertility persists. There is need to address the root cause of a problem before reaching its solution. Until you know you don’t know and reach out for help before you know. Ignorance is a strong causal factor in infertility. One of the reasons for starting Ask The Gynecologist online Group and Ask The Gynecologist Laboratory in Lagos Nigeria, according to Alalade, is to facilitate infertility investigations. “Everything relating to infertility is available in the laboratory”.
While speaking on his contribution to medicine, Dr Babajide Alalade said “apart from ATG online group and ATG laboratory in lagos, I have been able to establish a new low-cost IVF center in Lagos, for people that find it difficult to get pregnant. Many people are coming from all over the world to get pregnant at the IVF center”.
Challenges to IVF and other Fertility Assisted Technology
The first challenge, according to the O&G expert is that of understanding. “Most people think it’s the cost but it is not. Most people don’t know why they need IVF. I’ve spoken to almost a thousand women who didn’t know why they needed IVF in the first instance.
Another reason is lack of prerequisite skills by the doctors. “Most of the women have been seeing doctors that told them their test is okay and that they have no problem. So, when they come to me, they would tell me they have been told they have no problem. My response usually is if you have no problem you wouldn’t come to me. Skills are not available”. Adding that doctors that are not experts in the field, who don’t know what they are doing, give wrong advice to women.
Trust between the doctor and patient is another challenge. “Health care is driven by cost anywhere in the world. So, when patient come for IVF they want to collect more than what they need to pay for. There’s lack of trust so, patient want to bargain. And that’s why some patient will seek other options, which sometimes may not be the right one”.
IVF is Cheap in Nigeria
Apart from the accessibility and availability of specialists that will tell women the right thing about infertility, there’s also cost as a problem. IVF is expensive globally. According to Alalade, IVF is cheap in Nigeria, if you compared it to most places in the world. American pay close to $15,000.00. UK is about 8000 pounds, Europe the same thing. Nigeria is about 1500 pounds. That is about a million naira. So, it is cheap in Nigeria. “Though, one million or 1.2 million naira is not a small amount, but if you think of the cost of raising a child now, that money is a joke”. Adding that people don’t understand that the cost of raising a child is like full cost of building a house.
The O&G expert asserted that males like females also have Infertility challenges but infertility, unfortunately, is perceived as female problem. he corroborated this fact using the example of fertility prayers in churches as example. “In the churches whenever they want to pray for people that are not pregnant, they won’t call the males, they’ll always call women as if it’s only woman who has infertility problem. People think infertility is woman’s fault all the time, whereas 40% of infertility is male problem”. According to the O&G expert, men don’t ask for directions. “Men are not going to the doctor for help. They do not ask anybody for help, they just soldier on. We need to make men understand that asking for help is not a death sentence. Asking for help is not making you incapable”. Men’s mindset must be worked on to make them come forward and see that there is help available, he added.
Dr Alalade disclosed that Urologists need to come on Ask The Gynecologist Group to attacked and resolved male factor of infertility as soon as possible. “But we need to bring in gynecologist first then bring in urologist to the platform. Urologists are very expensive and scarce resource. So, to bring them on platform will require to encourage them because they are hugely expensive and scarce. So, we need to bring them into our system, let them talk to men and assist men to get pregnant. If they have problem”.
Watch Out Next Week! For the second part of the interview, wherein Dr Babajide Alalade bears his mind on the status of medicine in Nigeria, the rot and other challenges bedeviling the Nigeria’s health sector. Keep a date.
Source: Dare Agbeluyi, Chief Publisher.
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