President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday, 9 February 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.
‘‘We are aware that up to 40% of funds spent by Nigerians on medical tourism is attributable to patients seeking treatment for cancer,” said Buhari at the inauguration ceremony of the state-of-the-art Centre in LUTH, Idi Araba.
According to the president, 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.
‘‘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 project is an $11 million dollar investment for the rehabilitation, equipping and operation of an existing cancer center co-located in LUTH, which will provide advanced radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment services.
Uche Orji, the Chief Executive Officer of NSIA, said in 2016 the organisation announced its investment strategy in healthcare which was to partner with teaching hospitals and federal medical centres in a public private partnership to develop areas of excellence in healthcare.
According to him, following months of project development, the NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre was built in a record time of nine months and at a cost of approximately US$11million.
“Once it’s fully operational, this will be the largest outpatient cancer treatment centre in West Africa and is expected to treat as many as 80 and perhaps up to 100 patients a day.”
“It is small in the context of the needs we have in Nigeria, but it’s a start,” Orji said.
Chris Bode, the Chief Medical Director of LUTH said that the Centre has three Linear Accelerators, a Brachytherapy Machine, a Treatment Planning System and a Chemotherapy Suite.
“The Centre is world-class and no Nigerian cancer patient needs travel abroad again to receive treatment easily obtainable at this centre.
“We are currently training our staff to effectively man the centre which should be running fully as soon as all necessary mandatory operational certifications are obtained in the next six weeks, “he said.