Exclusive interview with Karim Tajdin, General Manager of Centre Médical Diamant S.A.R.L., expert exhibitors at the upcoming DRC Mining Week in Lubumbashi in June 2021 where they will also be the designated onsite medics for the event.
Let’s start with some background on Centre Mèdical Diamant (CMD). There is already a proud history there.
Centre Médical Diamant is a chain of eight medical centres that was founded in 1994 in Canada. It has indeed an interesting story that is tied to its founders. My father, Mohamed Tajdin, was born in Kenya, and grew up in the DRC.
He had left in the 1970s for Belgium to complete his studies before relocating to Canada, and going on to building large hospitals across three continents.
My mother, Dr Zarina Tajdin, is a medical doctor who did a masters in health administration and founded the first medical centre in Montreal in 1993. Since then, she perfected the art of running medical centres.
My brother, Rahim Tajdin, and his wife, Kamila Nazari-Tajdin, are the first ones who moved to DRC in 2013, after running the medical centres in Montreal for a couple of years.
At the time, CM Diamant had started as a mere outpatient and diagnostic centre in the heart of Kinshasa. From 2013 to 2016, Rahim led the growth of the medical centre to include many new services by following the demands of our patients.
In 2016, my wife, Dr Nurin Jivani-Tajdin, and I moved to the DRC, after Dr Nurin completed her fellowship in Paediatric Cardiology in the USA, and after I completed my Masters in Business Administration at INSEAD in France and Singapore.
Since my wife and I moved to the DRC, we were able to scale CM Diamant from one medical centre in Kinshasa, to a chain of five hospitals established across Kinshasa (three hospitals) and Lubumbashi (two hospitals).
CM Diamant is now renowned for its centres of excellence in many fields, such as Diagnostics (Laboratory, Imagery, Endoscopy), Surgery (Minimally-invasive, general, orthopaedic, urological, gynaecological, ENT, etc.), Mother-Child centre (delivery, neonatology, fertility), Emergency, ICU, and Cardiology.
Because CM Diamant is an international network, it can leverage on doctors around the world for medical care. For example, some specialties like Rheumatology and Endocrinology are currently lacking or very scarce in the ex-Katanga region, but CM Diamant patients still have access to these specialists who are based in Kinshasa or North America.
In some cases, like for Orthopedy, Oncology and Pulmonology, CM Diamant was able to attract the sole specialists of these fields in the ex-Katanga region.
What do you regard as the secret behind your success to date?
I would say that our success is based on a mix of three components: our staff, our use of technology, and our procedures.
Firstly, I am very lucky to have amazing medical and non-medical staff. We have a very good mix of expatriates, Congolese from the diaspora and local Congolese human resources. This ensures that we can implement best practices from the western world here in the DRC.
Secondly, I am an avid believer in technology. In fact, I am an electrical engineer by profession, and have therefore added a technical spin to almost all the aspects of a patient’s experience: the patient registers on a tablet; is consulted by doctors who use their computers, and signs his/her bill on a tablet. We can thus leverage the benefits of technology to increase the quality of our care as well as our speed.
For example, our software (which is built in-house) guides the doctors to use Evidence Based Medicine to treat patients, and therefore guarantees that the right methodology is used by all our doctors. Our software also sends to managers and directors all sorts of alerts if a patient has been waiting too long at any point of the patient flow.
The third secret to our success is our procedures. We have implemented in the DRC, procedures and norms that were adapted from those used in North America. Here, I mean norms such as architectural ones, administrative ones, as well as medical ones.
Let me give you an example that combines the three components that I mentioned above. Today, in the DRC, most appendectomies are done by opening up the patient. This method is considered archaic in North America, where the appendix is removed by using coelioscopy technology, where a camera is inserted in the body and two small incisions are made for the tools.
The appendix is removed in this minimally invasive manner, which has lots of benefits such as reduced hospitalization (0 to 1 day of hospitalisation instead of 5 days), and reduced risk of infection. This is how we do our appendectomies at CM Diamant in the DRC too.
How are you involved in the mining sector?
CM Diamant offers many health services that the mining players really need:
Firstly, there is the occupational health side of things, where we are equipped with all the technology needed to assess correctly the aptitude of the workers (spirometer, audiometer, visual acuity machines, ECGs, etc.). \
Our Occupational Health specialists follow all the international standards to determine the specific tests that each worker needs to undergo. This personalized care helps our clients save money, while allowing us to give aptitude certificates that are approved by the Ministry of Labour.
Next, we have a centre of pulmonology. There are many articles about the higher rate of respiratory and lung diseases in mining workers and contractors. We have thus brought a pulmonologist to ex-Katanga to deal with all the associated pathologies, by using advanced equipment such as bronchoscopy and a 64-slice CT Scanner (the most powerful CT Scanner of the region).
Finally, our excellence centre in surgery focuses on Orthopedic and Neurological surgeries, which are often needed for mining accidents. In fact, we have an actual orthopedic surgeon in Lubumbashi, who is from the Congolese Diaspora.
How has COVID-19 affected your organisation, in terms of restrictions and/or higher demand for medical support and services.
COVID-19 has had an interesting effect on CM Diamant. On one side, it slowed down our plans to expand into new markets, but on another side, it accelerated our plans to open a second centre in Lubumbashi.
We recently announced the opening of a second CM Diamant hospital in Lubumbashi, which will focus on COVID-19 and pulmonary diseases. It will be a hospital with a separate building for COVID-19 testing, and a separate building for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
COVID-19 also allowed CM Diamant to shine as a medical centre that follows international standards and that takes a leadership role when faced with uncertainty.
Even though it cost quite a lot in Personal Protective Equipment, I am proud to say that we were the medical centre that protected its staff and patients the most during this pandemic.
Every staff had multiple N95 masks, face shields, jumpsuits, gowns, gloves, etc. Procedures were adjusted very quickly to make sure that all suspected cases were sent to a separate isolated wing, while the new hospital was being built.
In fact, some clients even hired our services to screen all their employees before they entered the office, after seeing how strict our screening policy was.
What will be CMD’s message at the next DRC Mining Week?
CM Diamant’s message at the next DRC Mining week will focus on showcasing the quality of our Canadian Centre. I feel that it’s very important to share with the mining industry what good quality healthcare looks like.
Hopefully this leads to signing a few contracts with mining companies and contractors. We have contracts for occupational health (médecine du travail), first aid training, and of course, for the package that includes all medical care, including medical evacuation.
*Interested in showcasing your company’s specialist technology and services to the massive mining market on the Copperbelt?
Join the live DRC Mining Week expo and conference from 15-17 June 2021 in Lubumbashi or get involved in the series of expert webinars in the run-up to the event. Contact the team today!