Armed with a vision to change the present and future of healthcare, Dr Suresh Menon, Group CEO of Sidilega Private Hospital, Republic of Botswana, has a wealth of knowledge that has brought him to where he is today. For his studies and work, Dr Menon essentially became a globetrotter. After finishing his schooling and bachelors in the USA, he did his MBBS at the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIMPER) in India, one of the top five medical institutions in India. Next, he did his post-graduation and advanced training in eye microsurgery from the Institute of Eye Microsurgery in Moscow, also known as Fyodorov’s Eye Institute, working under the world-renowned ophthalmologist, the late Professor S N Fyodrov; then he returned to India to work in the Apollo Group of Hospitals in Hyderabad, eventually becoming the head of the eye department there. It was Dr Prathap Reddy, Founder Chairman of the group, that played godfather and turned Dr Menon onto hospital quality and administration management. After eight years with Apollo Hyderabad, he left to do his master’s in healthcare administration and management, along with fellowships in Australia.
After completing this, he worked in Nepal and Kerala, before he received a personal call from Dr Zulekha Daud to join Zulekha Hospitals in the UAE as the Director of Administration for the Sharjah branch and Director of Quality for the group. Dr Menon was instrumental in bringing the Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation one year after he joined. This puts a stamp of international approval for continuously implementing high quality and patient safety policies, practices, and procedures. A true leader, he stresses that the accomplishment is a team effort. “Healthcare quality is a thinking process and the commitment starts from the top. Until the people on top believe in healthcare quality only then does it percolate through the company. And Zulekha went out of its way to ensure this,” he elucidates.
Dr Menon’s big break came when he was hired by Abu Dhabi Healthcare Services Co (SEHA) as Commissioner of Health and deputed to Seychelles to transform the island’s healthcare. After a few years, he moved to Canada and launched a healthcare consultancy firm and also became an American-Canadian board-certified hypnotherapist where he uses hypnosis to treat people’s anxiety, stress, and deep-rooted trauma as social work. He was interested in some of the African projects that came his way, so when he got a call to head the Sidilega Private Hospital, he researched the country, jumped on a plane and launched the hospital in October 2019.
The Sidilega Private Hospital is the first citizen-owned private hospital in Botswana with Dr L Huang, Chairman and Promotor of the Sidilega Private Hospital board; Dr M Phuthego, Director and Promotor and Dr Shakil Rasul, Director and Promotor also at the helm. The hospital managed to break even in the one year since operations began in February 2020. It is licensed to operate 110 beds with multidisciplinary specialities undertaken by 450 staff. Its mission is to provide efficient and cost-effective healthcare services to people in Southern Africa by offering extended services in medical tourism. It has world-class management supported by reputed doctors and state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment, delivering the best care with a patient-centric approach. The aim is to be the second hospital in Africa to receive the JCI accreditation.
“After the Middle East, I think Africa is the next boom. In terms of infrastructure, riches and reserves, it is one of the biggest continents that has so much wealth,” comments Dr Menon.
In terms of overall development, including healthcare, South Africa is far ahead of its neighbouring countries. Advanced and specialised treatment, medicines, supplies etc. were coming through the country. There was great difficulty to obtain these items and send patients for treatments during the pandemic due to lockdowns and border control. “I am sparing no effort to make Sidilega self-sufficient, a one-stop for healthcare needs,” says Dr Menon. To achieve this, he is bringing in local and international talent to fill in specialities that did not exist before in Botswana such as Interventional Cardiology, Paediatric Cardiology, Paediatric Nephrology and Transplant Surgeries etc. Sidilega also has two upcoming projects in Botswana — a 75-bed hospital in Pallapye, another branch in Maun with a total of more than 1,200 staff, plus a cancer research institute. All three hospitals will be fully digitised, equipped with a connected hospital information system.
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