By Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity)
President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday inaugurated the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) advanced Cancer treatment centre in Lagos, with a pledge to ensure that facilities for the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer are available to many more Nigerians.
At the inauguration ceremony of the state-of-the-art Centre in LUTH, Idi Araba, President Buhari announced that the model will be replicated across the country to bring quality, first-class healthcare services to cancer patients in Nigeria.
‘‘We are aware that up to 40% of funds spent by Nigerians on medical tourism is attributable to patients seeking treatment for cancer. Despite having an increasing number of citizens suffering from cancer, we until now, had only two working radiotherapy machines in the country.
‘‘Working through the NSIA and LUTH we utilized a PPP model that unlocked investment capital to directly address this issue. We will replicate this model across the country to bring quality, first-class healthcare services to as many Nigerians as we can.
‘‘Indeed, over the coming months, under our leadership, the NSIA will commission two Modern Medical Diagnostic Centres to be co-located in the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano State and the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia, Abia State, respectively, bringing additional investment to Nigeria’s healthcare sector,’’ he said.
The President while wishing the management of the hospital good luck in operating the centre, emphasized the need for maintenance of the equipment.
‘‘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 the most modern and best-equipped Cancer treatment centre in West Africa.
‘‘Indeed we are proud, but we recognize that this modest effort to address the gaps in our tertiary healthcare system alone is 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.
‘‘No one ever prays to be diagnosed with Cancer, but if they are, what we have made possible here today is the hope that a true chance of survival and good quality of life becomes part of the story of many Nigerian patients with cancer,’’ he said.
The President promised that his administration, which has introduced programmes to alleviate common diseases, including the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund targeted at ensuring access to primary healthcare for all Nigerians, will continue to push hard to raise awareness about cancer, educate the people and facilitate early diagnosis.
He noted that this objective was part of his solemn commitment to Nigerians four years ago to improve the quality of health care in the country.
The President, who performed the ceremony after attending the APC presidential campaign rally at the Teslim Balogun Stadium Surulere, Lagos, said his administration had focused on greater investment in the sector and worked hard to ensure increased access to safe, high-quality healthcare.
‘‘We promised to effect policies that would remove debilitating constraints on the sector and create sustainable structures to strengthen our healthcare institutions.
‘‘Today, we are gathered here to acknowledge the modest but laudable strides we are making in fulfilling that promise. We recognize that progress in the health sector is handicapped by several bottlenecks.
‘‘Accordingly, we have worked and we will continue to work to ensure that systems are introduced to bridge these gaps,’’ he said.
The President told the audience at LUTH that the Federal Government has created an enabling environment for institutions such as the NSIA to help fund high impact projects on time and on budget, thereby delivering immense value for our 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,’’ he said.
In his remarks at the inauguration ceremony, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NSIA, Mr. Uche Orji said the Centre is expected to raise the bar in the quality and standard of cancer treatment in Nigeria with outcomes that would be consistent with the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
‘‘In addition, this Centre will demonstrate the economic potential of healthcare investments in Nigeria and catalyse increased private sector participation,” he said.
Also speaking, Professor Chris Bode, Chief Medical Director, LUTH, noted that the Centre is world-class and no Nigerian cancer patient needs to travel abroad again to receive treatment easily obtainable at home.
‘‘We, therefore, want to assure Your Excellency that we shall give what it takes to run this Centre as a pride to all Nigerians. NSIAs investment is not only safe but will yield ample dividend to encourage other deep pocket investors to open up the health sector as a veritable investors’ haven, ’’ he said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole described the Centre as the single largest investment in cancer treatment in the country by any administration since independence.
Prof. Adewole added that the facility can cater for 100 patients daily and provide training for over eighty healthcare professionals, among many others.