Facebook group connects Nigerian doctors worldwide

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Nigerian doctors can now connect with their peers worldwide for support through a Facebook group called Global Nigerian Physicians.
Started as a closed group by Dr. Ona Utuama, a US-based physician, the group, which already has over 1,200 members, provides a platform for doctors of Nigerian descent to network, discuss how to handle tricky medical cases, expedite specialist referrals, disease outbreaks, and even find jobs or research opportunities.
Dr. Utuama said she was inspired to start the group in March 2017 as a platform to network and provide support for Nigerian-born doctors in the practice of their profession at home and abroad.
Through the group, both home and foreign-based doctors get opportunity to collaborate and share information in many aspects of clinical and research medicine.
“I started the Global Nigerian Physicians group as a support network for Nigerian physicians worldwide to post challenging medical cases (without patient identifiers to maintain privacy) and help one another with expertise support. Some doctors might be stuck in a clinical case and have no specialist help within the vicinity when there are hundreds of thousands of Nigerian doctors of different specialties worldwide and awake at different times of the day,” she said.
Since its inception, Utuama, a US licensed Family Physician-Hospitalist, and an alumna of the University of Benin and Emory University, said the group has helped connect Nigerian doctors with specialist referrals, job adverts, re-unions, as well as provide information about medical cases.
She said: “A recent discussion thread was about the meningitis outbreak in Northern Nigeria. We tried to monitor its progress using information from the Nigerian Centers for Disease Control, courtesy of Dr. Olayinka Airat-Badmus and Dr. Osa Olayemi, however there was low participation among doctors in the affected areas. Dr Ahjoku Amadi-Obi of Hudibia app, also demonstrated the use of his telemedicine app in the education and tracking of the meningitis outbreak.
“The LifeBank Smart Blood system in Nigeria was shared to the Facebook group by Dr. Loretta Ogboro-Okor, a doctor in the UK. This blood system expedites the availability of blood products, a service some Nigerian and foreign based doctors were unaware of.
“The group also enabled a connection between an American physician working in a missionary group in Northern Nigeria with a local emergency medical evacuation service. Dr. Ufuoma Okotete-Awomosu, the CEO of Diamond Helix Medical Assitance, was contacted to help expedite the evacuation out of Northern Nigeria, of one of the American missionary who was acutely ill.”
Dr Utuama belongs to a similar group of American Physicians, which has over 65,000 members. Through that network she said she has fast tracked inter-hospital transfer of her sick patients, secured last minute medical appointments, and learnt about challenges of other colleagues at different phases of their careers.
She expects to achieve the same value with the Nigerian group, which is made up of 41 per cent female and 59 per cent male doctors.
“As physicians, irrespective of where we practice, we need one another and can address some of our challenges through this forum.
To join the group, Dr Utuama said aspiring members can request or be invited by existing members as certified medical doctors.
In the future, Dr Utuama hopes the group will provide a platform to foster and improve healthcare in Nigeria and across the globe for Nigerians through focused social networking.
“The potential of this group is endless, from clinical and research collaborations to information sharing, job opportunities and networking for clinical care advancement,” she said.

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