The Federal Government of Nigeria, in fulfilling its promise to effect its policies that would eliminate debilitating constraints on the Nigerian health sector, yesterday commissioned the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) – Federal Medical Centre Umuahia (FMCU) Diagnostic Centre in Abia State, the South Eastern region of the country.
At the hybrid (combined in-person and virtual) event, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said the commissioning was also to acknowledge the modest but laudable strides that government has made through the partnership between the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia (FMCU) in fulfilling that promise.
In view of the fact that the health of a people affects their productivity and the nation’s economic growth as a whole, she stated: “On assumption of office, our administration immediately began to introduce programmes to alleviate the disease burden of Nigerians, exemplified in part by the roll out of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund targeted at ensuring access to primary healthcare care for eight million Nigerians, and our ongoing efforts to revitalise 10,000 primary health care facilities across the country.”
“We have recognised 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 the 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 NSIA to execute high impact projects on time and on budget, delivering immense value for the Nigerian people. In the case of the cancer centre, we can measure this value in currency, but we prefer to measure the value in terms of its social impact, the number of lives of Nigerians that will be saved and positively affected as well as the impact of capacity building for our people.
She noted: “In 2019, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, commissioned the NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre in Lagos. Prior to this investment, there had only been two working radiotherapy machines in the country. Working through the NSIA and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), we utilised a public private partnership (PPP) model that unlocked investment capital to directly address this issue.”
In her words: “We have now replicated the PPP model with our diagnostics programme which aims to bring quality, first class healthcare services to every Nigerian who needs it. If you recall, the NSIA commissioned the NSIA-Kano Diagnostic Centre which was co-located in the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital in March 2020 under our leadership and supervision. As promised then, we are now gathered for the commissioning of the second out the total of six diagnostic centres to be co-located with teaching hospitals in the six geo-political zones of the country. The diagnostics programme will bring additional investment to Nigeria’s healthcare sector.”
According to her: “Our goal today is not simply to celebrate and applaud the culmination of months of hard work to achieve this objective. Neither is it solely to revel in the successful completion of world class and well equipped diagnsotic centre in the South Eastern region. Indeed, we are proud, but we recognise that this modest effort to address the gaps in our secondary healthcare system is alone insufficient to address all the challenges faced by the sector.
“Today, we showcase what feats we can accomplish when we are together unrelenting in our effort to deliver a common objective. We have made it possible for the citizens of Nigeria to be able to detect illnesses at an early stage, thus increasing the chance of survival and good quality of life. Of course, we will continue to push hard to raise awareness of early diagnosis, but today we can confidently proclaim that a lot more Nigerians will now have access to high quality treatment,” she also said.
On the investment in the health sector, Mr. Uche Orji, Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO), NSIA, said the Authority has committed up to US$5.5 million in the establishment of the NSIA- FMCU Diagnostic Centre – an ultra-modern medical diagnostic centre – located within the premises of the FMCU, Abia State.
“NSIA’s investment strategy in the healthcare sector is to partner with public and private institutions to create centres of excellence in the healthcare delivery in Nigeria, focusing on diagnostics, tertiary healthcare (targeting non-communicable diseases) and medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing. The centre is expected to serve the South Eastern region of the country and is a pilot – along with the modern diagnostic facility also established by the NSIA at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital– for the NSIA diagnostic centre program, which aims to establish modern medical diagnostic centres (collocated with federal healthcare institutions) across the six geo-political zones of the country.
“NSIA’s investment funded the construction of the diagnostic centre, including the acquisition and installation of modern laboratory and radiology equipment which will aid the provision of comprehensive diagnostics for the delivery of the highest quality of services. The centre will be operated by Statpath, which is a joint venture company between Synlab (formerly Pathcare) and Crestview. Synlab is a world-renowned provider of pathology services and Crestview is a renowned provider of radiology services in Nigeria. The following radiology equipment have been acquired and installed at the Centre: a CT scanner, X-ray machine, mammography machine and two ultrasound machines.
“We expect the above-listed equipment to provide up to 35,000 patient investigations within the first year of operations, providing high quality diagnostic services that have previously been unavailable in the region. Most of the laboratory equipment purchased for the Centre – including equipment for haematology microbiology, biochemistry and other equipment –will aid the provision of routine and specialised blood tests, efficiently and at an affordable price, to people in Abia State and the South Eastern region of the country. It is projected that the laboratory equipment will provide up to 60,000 patient investigations within the first year of operations.