By Asma’u Ahmad
The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) said that Public Private Partnerships could play a key role in providing finance to the healthcare sector in the country.
The commission’s Spokesperson, Mrs Manji Yarling in a statement on Monday in Abuja, said that the Acting Director-General of ICRC, Mr Chidi Izuwah said this at the Thisday Healthcare Financing Policy Dialogue.
Izuwah spoke on the theme “Moving Nigeria Toward Universal Health Coverage through Appropriate Financing”.
He said healthcare financing was a challenge to policy makers in developing countries, including Nigeria as they grapple with the burden of finding the most efficient model for delivering public health services to citizens.
“Financing for universal healthcare coverage is not the issue as the world is awash with funds, however, lenders would not give money when they are not sure about the investment climate,’’ he said.
The ICRC boss pointed out that the problem with Nigeria’s healthcare was not just funding, but also the quality and access.
Izuwah, using the Garki Hospital Abuja as a case study, said Nigeria had successfully improved public medical services in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with the PPP model.
He said since the concession of the hospital was awarded to NISA Premier Hospital in 2007 for operations and management, the hospital had become fully equipped with modern facilities and equipment.
“So far, they have conducted more than 27 open heart surgeries, 7 kidney transplants and continue to improve its facilities,’’ Izuwah said.
Simiarly, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Lanre Tejuoso said that where most countries had increased their health budget to about 15 per cent, Nigeria’s still remained at about five per cent.
“Nigeria’s population is projected to increase to 400 million by 2050, and this will significantly expand the demand for healthcare, thereby, placing a burden on government’s finances.
“There is room for further improvement in health outcomes, access to services, quality of care and protection from financial risk,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the President, Healthcare Federation of Nigeria, Mrs Clare Omatseye said lack of access to quality healthcare in Nigeria had led to massive medical tourism which continues to hemorrhage scarce foreign exchange.
She put the losses to the nation due to medical tourism at about one billion dollars annually.