Uche Usim, Abuja
History was recorded yesterday as the Federal Government unveiled the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority Diagnostic Centre located at the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia.
Speaking at a virtual commissioning of the multi-billion naira facility on Tuesday, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed described the diagnostic centre as one that would revolutionalise healthcare system in the country.
The virtual commissioning was attended by the Governor of Abia State Okezie Ikpeazu; the Minister of State for Health Dr Olurunnimbe Mamora; the Chairman of the Board of FMCU Senator John Danboyi; Managing Director of the NSIA Mr Uche Orji and the Chief Medical Director of the FMCU Dr Azubuike Onyebuchi.
In her remarks, the Minister said there was a nexus between a wealthy nation and her healthy population, underscoring the need for strategic investments in healthcare in order to surmount the numerous health challenges Nigeria was grappling with.
Ahmed referenced huge investments made by NSIA in the Lagos University Teaching Hospital Cancer Centre, the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia that just got a diagnostic centre as bold investments needed to improve the lives of Nigerians.
The Minister, however, called on the private sector to help in addressing the mounting health challenges in Nigeria, since government’s resources were lean.
She said, “There is increasing awareness that the health of a people affects their productivity and the nation’s economic growth as a whole. As the saying goes, ‘A healthy nation is a wealthy nation.’
“The administration recognizes that progress in the health sector is handicapped by several bottlenecks. With full appreciation of the issues, we have worked and continue to work to ensure that systems are introduced to bridge these gaps.
“One such step in this direction is our direct intervention in addressing non-communicable diseases such as cancer.
“We have created an enabling environment for institutions such as the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority to execute high impact projects on time and on budget, delivering immense value for the Nigerian people.”
She recalled that in February 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre in Lagos.
Prior to this investment, she said there had only been two working radiotherapy machines in the country.
Working through the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, the minister said the government utilized a Public Private Partnership model that unlocked investment capital to directly address this issue.
The centre, according to her, is delivering value to Nigerians as patients can receive quality care domestically in a safe, first-class environment.
She said the social impact is also noteworthy given the number of lives that will be saved over time and the positive impact it portends in terms of capacity building for the medical community.
Earlier in his remarks, the Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu said healthcare was one of the priority areas of his administration.
He said the priority given to the sector was based on the conviction that only a healthy people can develop an economy.
The Governor who commended the Federal Government on its choice of Umuahia as the location for the Diagnostic Centre, added that more investments needed to be made to reposition the sector.
He also called for effective legislation that would address some of the bottlenecks being experienced in providing the much needed interventions in the health care sector.
He said despite the state government’s intervention in the health care sector, his administration is also addressing the challenges being faced by those that are vulnerable in the state.