Sound health, many people agree, has positive multiplier effects on every facet of life. And this is being re-echoed across Nigeria by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) that health is wealth.
The recent establishment of diagnostic centres in Abia and Kano states, and the inauguration of a modern cancer centre in Lagos by the agency was a re-affirmation to make quality healthcare accessible to more Nigerians.
Perturbed by the lack of adequate cancer diagnostic and treatment centres in Nigeria, the NSIA has vowed to improve the sector, especially by ensuring that Nigerians no longer worry about misdiagnosis and the high rate of cancer deaths due to poor management.
Matching word with action to address the burden of cancer management in the country, a fully equipped NSIA/Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Cancer Centre has been unveiled in Lagos.
At the launch of the NSIA/Umuahia Diagnostic Centre in Abia State recently, the CEO, NSIA, Uche Orji, described the facility as a world-class diagnostic centre: “Following years of project development, the NSIA-Umuahia Diagnostic Centre was built in 18 months and at a cost of approximately $5.5 million. Once fully operational, this will be the largest and most modern diagnostic centre in the South-East and South-South regions of the country.
“This project was executed as a build-operate-transfer arrangement through a special purpose vehicle, where NSIA owns 90 per cent and 10 per cent by the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia (FMCU). After 15 years, the period over which we anticipate the NSIA would have recouped its investment, full ownership of the SPV and its assets will revert to FMCU.”
The governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu, described the investment as a timely intervention, especially as the world was still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
He canvassed robust policies by government at all tiers, even as he tasked them to prioritise healthcare. He noted that investments must be made and laws must support all citizens, particularly those in low income homesteads.
His words: “With our broadened policy implementation in healthcare, we are pleased that the Federal Government, through the NSIA, is complementing our efforts by establishing a centre of healthcare excellence in Umuahia, which I trust will be the first of many. The state is convinced that establishing the diagnostic centre will serve not only the South-East region but the South as a whole and complement the growing stock of healthcare infrastructure in other parts of the nation.”
At the inauguration of the facility in Kano, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said: “President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is placing a focus on greater investment in the healthcare sector and working to ensure increased access to safe and high quality service for every Nigerian. Investment in healthcare is critical to a thriving economy as a healthy people are an enabler for productivity.”
She stressed that the facility in Kano, which cost NSIA $5.5 million, was one of the practical measures taken by government to check the spate of Nigerians taking to medical tourism abroad. She stated that the Federal Government was committed to replicating such diagnostic centres in each of the six geo-political zones of the country.
Mrs. Ahmed disclosed that a special scheme had been floated by her ministry to enable underprivileged Nigerians access services at the centre.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Health, Senator Adeleke Mamora, urged the centre’s management to ensure that the quality of service at the facility does not deteriorate.
“As a medical doctor, I understand the challenges of operation with sub-par equipment. Government is stepping in to address this difficulty and therefore the team running the centre must justify the investment,” he said.
NSIA reiterated that, while the diagnostic centre in Umuahia would serve the South-East and South-South pending when other centres are built in the region, the Kano centre would serve the northern region for now.
Buhari had referred to the centre as a world-class facility that would mitigate the burden of cancer in Nigeria, as well as reduce medical tourism.