We are highly pleased to bring to you another insightful, informative and educative interaction from The Readers Hub on our SOCIAL CONVO session.
On 29th May, 2020, The Readers Hub hosted one of its ardent readers on its regular weekly SOCIAL CONVO session with Dr Muslim Donkor Ibrahim. It was moderated by Mr. Haadi Bachang as theydiscussed broadly on the theme: Challenges of the Sexual Reproductive system: The Role of Gynecologists in the Health Care Delivery
Gyaenacology is a branch of medical studies that specializes in women’s health, with a focus on the female reproductive system. They deal with a wide range of issues, including but not limited to obstetrics, or pregnancy and childbirth, menstruation and fertility issues, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and hormonal disorders.
In effect, Gyaenacologists treat the overall health of the female patients, diseases of the female reproductive systems such as breast and hormonal problems, urinary tract and pelvic disorders and cancer of the cervix among others.
The above notwithstanding, it appears without any scintilla of doubt that most people are still less informed about the role of Gyaenacologists in the health care delivery system of our country.
Tonight, we engage the services of a top brass medical professional whose sense of community service is heartwarming. Indeed, our guest is a young man of great achievements in public and private practice, who shares with us, the role of the Gyaenacologists. He will also take us through his professional journey thus far, couple with the challenges he had faced both in his professional career and in private life.
Ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome our personality for tonight’s SOCIAL CONVO Dr. Muslim Donkor Ibrahim.
Haadi: Doctor, you are welcome to the READERS HUB Social Convo session
Dr. Muslim: Thank you my good brother and friend. And thanks to you all on this Noble Platform. I feel highly honoured to be with you tonight.
Haadi: We are equally honoured to have you this evening for the session. My Readers are eager to know more behind the name Dr Muslim Donkor Ibrahim. Please tell us something.
Dr. Muslim: I am a son, a friend, a husband and a father. And then an obstetrician gynecologist and a medicalprenuer.
Haadi: Splendid! Take us through your educational background please.
Dr. Muslim: I had my basic education in Wa; Dan Ibu international school. Had my senior secondary education at Nandom Secondary School. Had my Medical education at University of Ghana Medical school; where I obtained my MbChB.Then I proceeded to Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine where I did international Public Health in Sexual and Reproductive health. And then back to Korlebu for my Specialization on Obstetrics and Gynecology
Haadi: Impressive! What does MbChB mean to the ordinary man (smiles)
Dr. Muslim: Bachelor of Science in Medicine and Surgery
Haadi: Oh ok! It is observed from our previous Social Convos that most of our guests have not had it rosy in pursuit of their formal education.
(a). How was your journey?
(b) Any childhood memories?
Dr. Muslim: I am not from a rich background. What I can say for sure however is that my mother was committed to providing me with good education. To this extend, I would say I had it fairly easy for my basic and secondary education. This notwithstanding, at the secondary school level I realized that life was not going to be easy, going forward. At the University we pulled through on benevolence of extended family and good friends. For the memories, they are many.
Haadi: Share the most memorable (smiles)
Dr. Muslim: Definitely! These days I am on the positivity horizon. So, I am forcing myself to remember the good ones. I did remember we sold a friend’s power motorbike to another friend, used the money to pay our medical school fees. Strangely though, when I went to pay the cashier said I will pay a penalty for late payment of fees. The burst into a loud laughter and she knew she just have to let me go. But there are many good memories. Meeting wonderful friends who are now part of my family.
Haadi: Refreshing! Kindly take us through your career and tell us what it entails, including your work experiences.
Dr. Muslim: Indeed, it has been a wonderful ride. I started my Housemanship at Ridge hospital spent a year there and moved to Berekum; the then Bono Ahafo Region in 2010.Spent another one (1) year in Berekum and then moved to Nadowli District Hospital in 2012. After six months at Nadowli, I went to Liverpool for the international public health and returned in 2013. Did another year on Nadowli District Hospital before my specialist course at Korlebu from 2014 to 2017.I came back to continue my medical practice at Nadowli until last year around October where I was subsequently moved to the New Regional Hospital in Wa.In effect, it was like getting experience along the coast, then to the middle belt and finally up North.
Haadi: Interesting journey, thus far! You mentioned in your introduction that you are a Medipreneur. Take us through that and also tell us about Homeland Hospital please.
Dr. Muslim: Homeland hospital is a private health facility. We started in 2015 while I was in residency program in Korlebu. We will be five years in July. We started as a clinic and have now been accredited Hospital Status by National Health Insurance Authority this year
Haadi: Is it a specialist hospital?
Dr. Muslim: Yes please. We provide specialist care in Obstetrics and gynecology, Urology, Ophthalmology and general surgery. We were almost adding Dermatology and Child Health this year but for Corona virus.
Haadi: I would be grateful if you could reduce the …logy …logy to the understanding of the layman (smiles). Urology, Ophthalmology, dermatology… These sound too big and scary.
Dr. Muslim: (Smiles) So in the order of appearance: Maternal Health, men urinary and reproductive health, eye, and I think general surgery is self-explanatory and Dermatology is skin health.
Haadi: I hope they don’t determine your charges (smiles)
Dr. Muslim: To some extent they do. These specialties are not available in the entire region. So, we bring the specialist doctors from other regions
Haadi: okay, marvelous! You seem to have one of a unique personality and leadership style that attracts people towards you. May I know what you do different from others?
Dr. Muslim: Ah I think initially I was probably working to meet people’s expectations. But for some time now; I have moved to self-esteem rather than self-protection. Each of these draws people to you and you to people. I think I also try to treat people more than they treat me. The pursuit of excellence demands this. To this extend, perhaps, it allows continuity of friendship and formation of strong bonds.
Haadi: Great! What are some of the leadership positions you have held? Did you encounter some challenges and how did you solve them?
Dr. Muslim: I have been medical director of Nadowli hospital twice. Before and after my specialist education. Thus, in 2013 to 2014 and again from 2018 to 2019.And for a short while as acting Regional Deputy Director for Clinical Care. I must however be quick enough to add that my first-time medical Director role was by default I should say. Because I was the only medical doctor in the hospital. But prior to these leadership positions held, I have been a House Prefect and Assistant Senior prefect at my Basic school and Assistant Senior prefect at secondary school. So, my main challenge was how I could lead a hospital to live up to its core mandate of providing effective and efficient health care on timely basis to the local communities. It’s a difficult task in our settings you know. But with God’s grace I know it’s surmountable.
I started working on making sure simple medical consumables i.e. gauze, plaster, gloves, and essential medication were always available and in their right quantity. I rallied the team to make sure our lab was functioning at all times material. I also lobbied and increased the number of Medical Doctors to four in the Region.
Haadi: impressive! (Smiles)
Dr. Muslim: We were nicknamed “The Korle Bu” of upper west. Personally, I think these services are so basic, but I tell you in our setting they are a “Big Services” I must admit that, focus, courage and working with integrity helps a lot in our system. Without these, nothing gets done well.
Haadi: I hope your legacy stays or improves upon by subsequent Doctors and staff in the region in the unfortunate event that you are transferred. Any experience in youth empowerment or mentorship?
Dr. Muslim: I hope so my brother. Not so much there. But I currently work with junior doctors at homeland hospital. I also train junior doctors at the Regional hospital. Surprisingly, many junior doctors have taken me as their role model whilst I am here thinking I also still need modeling (smiles). I try to be the best I can be every day and I hope by that I leave examples for others to follow. I keep friends below my age and hope I learn from them; I think they learn from me too. I did a bit of teaching after secondary school and some of my students still are in touch and we discuss their plans for education and work. I freely offer my options. To this extend. I will say at least I have mentored some people small. (Smiles)
Haadi: You are indeed an inspiration. From your experience, what is your position regarding youth empowerment from our senior fellows who have excelled in their fields of practices?
Dr. Muslim: Hmm …. It’s a difficult one. You know, it’s true that you can only teach someone who is ready, willing and open to learn. This notwithstanding, I am also conscious of the fact that there are perceived barriers that do not allow the young ones to get close to their mentors. There are many good seniors out there and we should get closer and learn from them and also try and make ourselves available for mentorship. My sad observation however is the negative political mentorship which is widespread and readily available. Personally, my greatest mentors are books. When you read a book written from a mentor, it’s like sitting in the room with him/her. The book brings the mentor closer to you
Haadi: Any book(s) that you have read that help shaped your life and worth sharing with READERS?
Dr. Muslim: Yes! The construction of Social Reality, The Art of thinking clearly, Talent is never enough the decision Book and The Ride of a lifetime but sorry I don’t quiet remember the authors’ names and I think we can check that later.
Haadi: You are really a voluble devotee of books (smiles)
Dr. Muslim If you are ready to change, books can provide you with the knowledge and tools to do whatever you set out to do.
Haadi: It’s trite knowledge that Medical Doctors and other professionals represent their constituents in the legislature or take up other political positions, any plans to follow the footsteps of Dr Okoe Boye and others?
Dr. Muslim: It’s a question I get asked a lot these days. Maybe they are planting seeds in my head. I think we can achieve greatness outside political party politics. I have dreams and politics is not really part of my dreams. I dream for better health care for communities. Maybe one day I lead a private company that runs a third of Hospital beds from middle belt to the North. A company that provides quality and affordable health care for that matter. This is my dream
Haadi: May God see you through and let it comes to fruition.
Dr. Muslim: Amen. And I believe firmly believe it’s possible.
QUESTIONS TIME WITH OUR READERS FROM (THE READERS HUB)
Dr Elias: Please tell us how you got a ‘Big T-shirt’ at Legon. I have heard about it several times from Dr Stephen Adaawen.
Dr. Muslim: (laughs out loud). It was a present from Prof Frimpong Boateng’s son. A very good friend of mine.
Bassing. A.M.A. Kamal:
1. Please Dr, how are you able to combine your work at the Upper West Regional Hospital with that of your role at your private hospital (Homeland Hospital)?
2. Why the name Homeland Hospital?
Dr. Muslim: I am practically working all the time. I work even on weekends at the clinic I do my surgeries and get done by 7am at my private clinic. I also do my consultations on Saturday and Sunday. And touching on the second leg of the question, Homeland represents the idea of doing something for my people at the local level.
1. Please do you hold the view that working as a medical doctor with a private facility (especially) in your home town brings you nothing near “success” in monetary terms compared to your colleagues in other regions?
2. Please what’s your view on the assertion that the medical profession should be “protected” as in the number of professionals (doctors) trained in the country, comparing our country to other countries like Cuba?
Dr. Muslim: Monetary terms? Not really. I think the best business ideas should be built around solving a problem and if you did that well, fulfillment will follow whether in monetary terms as you put it or whatever that may be. Protecting a profession by limiting the number of people who qualify into it is unfair. I will not support any such idea
Dr Siddique: Dr. Muslim, I just want to let you know that we are proud of your good initiative of establishing a clinic in Wa. God bless you for coming back home. Having said that, May I know of your family life? I ask because you look so busy to have time for your family. How do you manage such a life? Do you encounter any challenge in managing the people you serve?
Dr. Muslim: I am married and have a daughter and a son. It’s a difficult life but I always try my best. To be frank I prioritize my work a lot. Now that I am in Wa, I get to read bedtime stories for my daughter almost every night.
Hammer: Are there times you regret your decision to work from your home town?
Dr. Muslim: Sometimes you compare and I do that once in a while, that notwithstanding, I have not regretted my decision. It has been a pleasure working with and for my people. Of course, it has many challenges but I think a life without challenges is not worth it.
Mr. Danaa: How do you break-even; given the plight of our people and the cost of medical care? And how are you able to walk the tight rope of tijaabunyeni and his professional ethics in public and private enterprise?
Dr. Muslim: Clinic has moved into profitability (if that is good accounting language). We have built our model on making profit if we serve a large pool of clients. It’s not easy but it’s good so far. On the culture of Tijaabunyeni (“we are all one” wahala) I stumble on building self-esteem as opposed to working for self-protection, and it has helped me in my approach as regards my daily challenges. It’s a tight one but it works well.
Mr. Adams: At what stage of your life did you think of becoming a Medical Doctor or offer medicine?
Dr. Muslim: Dr Dekuwmine Mornah (junior brother of PNC Bernard Mornah) convinced me to buy Legon admission forms for medicine. But prior to that, I had planned to go to KNUST to do civil engineering. So, it’s a “by mistake profession” for me (Smiles) and to a larger extend, maybe the best counseling in my life. And I am very much grateful, thus far.
Dr Khalid: What is your definition of Success?
Dr. Muslim: Wow! I only know it’s a process and not a destination.
Mr. Dery: Dr, may I know the motivation behind establishing a private hospital in Wa, your hometown. Is it for profit or to serve your people- to give back to society what you received from them? If it is profit oriented, looking at the poverty level, are people able to pay for the services of the specialists you invite to assist you in the hospital to deliver heath care
Dr. Muslim: While I was working at Nadowli, people used to come from many parts of the region to seek health care. I wanted to reduce this burden. I also realized that the culture within the public sector was just so bad. Decision taking is so slow and of low quality. I needed to improve these. I knew if I am able to succeed in that venture, I would be able to serve my people well and, in the process, also make a decent life for my family
Kaara Nuhu: Any plans of bringing other doctors home?
Dr. Muslim: Oh yeah sure! We have been doing that with clinics and have brought many homes so. About a third of the young doctors at the Regional hospital and the district hospital came to clinic and worked first. They liked the region and so decided to stay and continue. We have used clinic to break the perception of doctors for the Region
Haadi: How do you manage a likely conflict of interest situation in managing a regional hospital and a private one within the same town?
Dr. Muslim: That’s the biggest question. Integrity! Integrity! My brother. Some doctors have not handled similar conflicts well. So, there is always a perception that others will use such situation for their private benefit. I think I even sometimes “cheat” my clinic for the Regional hospital (smiles). Truth be told, when I encounter grey areas, I act to the benefit of my public practice. In fact, it’s mentally difficult. But we are trying our best.
Haadi: We have really had a long and interesting Session with you Doc.Before we draw the curtains down, what are your hobbies please?
Dr. Muslim: Reading, watching and playing football and taking Tea by the roadside with friends. (Smiles)
Haadi: It’s been an inspiration and we can’t thank you enough well enough. Any concluding remarks?
Dr. Muslim: It’s a great honor my brother. In my journey, I have embraced positive change and it’s making the ride good. These days I encourage that we make positive changes to ourselves. We can be a great people. Let’s be great!
Haadi: Wow! Let’s be great and great we shall be! This is really a profound statement. On behalf THE READRES HUB I say barika yaga jaaa and may the good Lord bless you in all your endeavors.
Dr. Muslim: Amen! And thanks to you all for the audience granted.
Haadi: READERS, this is where the train of SOCIAL CONVO ends tonight. I hope we have enjoyed the session and have taken some lessons as well. Until we come again with another session next week, I thank you all and wish you a fruitful weekend.
NB: Please don’t forget to share after reading for others to also benefit
HUB EDITOR: Bassing. A.M.A. Kamal