By Asmau Ahmad
The Federal Government says with the coming up of affordable world class health facilities, Nigeria will soon put an end to the over N500 billion being spent on medical tourism annually.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said this on Tuesday in Lagos at a media tour of Duchess International Hospital, a 100-bed state-of-the-art multi-specialist healthcare facility.
The private sector-owned purpose-built hospital was constructed through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), with financial support from the Bank of Industry (BoI).
Speaking after a tour of the hospital, the minister said with more world class healthcare facilities like Duchess Hospital coming on stream, Nigeria is set become a destination for medical tourists.
He said the country would soon welcome foreign patients and medical personnel on its shores rather than having its citizens travel yearly and spending more than N500 billion for medical tourism.
“We as a country will also conserve our foreign reserves while earning foreign exchange, we will begin to reverse the brain drain in the health sector; create jobs and provide affordable and standard healthcare for our people.
“Of course, facilities like Duchess International are veritable tools for job creation, in addition to attracting medical tourists from across the world.
“Its a new dawn for the health sector and we are proud of what Duchess and other healthcare facilities are doing in bringing about this new dawn,” he said
Mohammed noted that although, the facility was private-sector driven, the Federal Government provided the enabling environment and funding for its realisation.
He recalled that in the wake of COVID-19, the CBN set up the N100 billion Healthcare Sector Intervention Fund, which was later expanded to N200 billion.
He said the intervention fund was to provide credit support for the healthcare sector through long-term, low-cost financing.
“You are also aware of the Federal Government’s Intervention in the Healthcare Sector through the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
“The NSIA has invested a total of 22.5 million dollars in two diagnostic centres in Kano and Umuahia (5.5 million dollars each) and the NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre in Lagos (11.5 million dollars). The NSIA is also committed to building a new quaternary hospital in Abuja.
“The essence of these financial interventions and projects in the critical healthcare sector is to fast-track the evolvement of world class healthcare facilities like this Duchess International Hospital.
“With what we have seen here today, Nigerians can now get access to affordable and world class treatment in whatever is ailing them in many areas.
“This includes emergency medicine, women’s health, paediatric care, cardiovascular medicine, kidney dialysis, dental treatment, and eye care among others,” he said.
While conducting the minister and his team of journalists round the hospital facilities, Dr Tokunbo Shitta-bey, the Chief Executive Officer, said the hospital was aimed at delivering the highest standard of healthcare to Nigerians.
He said the hospital would use the most advanced technology, personnel and treatments to provide Nigerians with the best medical expertise available anywhere in the world.
Shitta-bey emphasised that the guiding philosophy of the health facility was to cut down medical tourism in affordable manner with the same equipment and personnel found in the most advanced parts of the world.
According to him, the facility is available for community service, patients in all strata of the society, offering wide range of specialised services and treatment.
Justifying how affordable the hospital is, Shitta-bey said they charge only N5,000 for registration and consultation respectively.
The six-storey hospital complex comprises of 16 Departments including the Cardiology Centre, physiotherapy room, ENT, Surgical and Gynecology Ward, Medical laboratories and Intensive and Critical care unit which are fully automated and equipped with modern equipment.
It also has the Endoscopy unit, Women and Children ward, Dialysis Centre, Dental Unit, Surgical Theatre (Modular and automated) and Pharmacy
Others are Emergency wards, Radiology Department, Play area for children and Learning and development Centre.