• Friday, April 19, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Abuja 500-bed health facility will be ready 2025 — Afreximbank insists

Intra-African trade fair generates $120bn trade, investment deals

.signs $1bn MOU with FG to unlock Nigeria’s healthcare system

Benedict Oramah, president, African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has assured that the African Medical Centre of Excellence (AMCE), a 500-bed world-class medical facility being built in Abuja by the bank in partnership with Kings College Hospital, London, would commence operations in 2025 as earlier announced, as over 50 percent job has been done.

Oramah announced this at the maiden AMCE, Africa Health Forum which was held with the theme, “Historical Journey & Mission of AMCE”, held on Wednesday in Abuja.

“I am pleased to inform you that the development of the AMCE Abuja is well advanced, with construction having achieved over 50 percent completion. The facility is on track to commence operations in early 2025,” said Oramah who is also the board chairman of AMCE.

He added that with the facility which will create approximately 3,000 jobs during its construction and operational phases, prompt, lifesaving detection and the management of serious diseases, would be delivered to over 200,000 patients in Nigeria and a further 150,000 patients from other African countries within its first five years of operation.

The facility will also promote intra-regional trade in medical services and strengthen supply chains in the medical and pharmaceutical sectors.

The project, he said, would entail a world-class 500-bed hospital facility to serve the entire African continent, focusing on three core non-communicable diseases: oncology, haematology, cardiology, and general care capabilities.

The promoters, including the Nigerian government, believe that AMCE would bring much-needed relief, especially considering the over $2 billion annually Africa’s largest economy spends on medical tourism, especially for heart, kidney, cancer and other related diseases.

According to Oramah, the initiative was first conceptualised due to the inadequacy of healthcare facilities to deal with non-communicable diseases, an unacceptable situation given the stark predictions that non-communicable diseases would overtake infectious diseases as Africa’s most troubling healthcare challenge by 2030.”

“The problem is further compounded by the fact that, as of today, only 48 percent of Africa’s 1.4 billion people have access to essential healthcare services. It was clear then that we needed to do something about it; and today, we are doing something to turn the tide within the Afreximbank Group,” he said.

The event also featured the signing of the $1 billion memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Afreximbank and the Federal Ministry of Health to support the development of Nigeria’s healthcare sector under the Presidential Initiative for Unlocking Healthcare Value Chains (PVAC).

The $1 billion Healthcare Value Chain Programme, seeks to support the establishment of world-class medical and health facilities and increase domestic manufacturing of essential pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, vaccines, biologics and medical consumables.

It will also reduce outbound medical tourism by elevating the quality and accessibility of healthcare services within Nigeria, promoting employment, fostering a culture of locally driven research & development, and attracting investments into Nigeria’s healthcare value chain.

The programme will encompass financing support and investment, infrastructure development, human capital development, research and innovation and technology, policy, regulatory and quality improvement efforts, market access and investment promotions, environmental and sustainability initiatives, etc.

In his remarks, Muhammad Ali Pate, minister of Health and Social Welfare, said that the programme would increase domestic manufacturing by boosting the local production of essential pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, vaccines, biologics, medical consumables and devices to reduce the dependency on imports and enhance our health security.

“As we speak, we have a large mission here to establish a very large diagnostic facility in Nigeria as part of this effort. We also intend to reduce broadband medical tourism by elevating the quality and accessibility of healthcare services within Nigeria to retain the significant healthcare expenditure of $2 billion in broadband medical tourism.”

He emphasised the need for revitalising and renewing the health infrastructure domestically to not only serve Nigerians but also to serve the sub-region and Africa.

He said that the initiative will also create jobs as the health sector is not just a consumption sector but also a contributor to economic growth.

“In most OECD countries, the contribution of the health sector to GDP is almost 8,9,10 percent on average and we are less than half of that so health can be a contributor and can create jobs, we only need to look at larger countries to see the contribution of the health sector to their GDP,” he said

Also speaking at the event, Samaila Zubairu, president and CEO, of Africa Finance Corporation, noted that the essence of the project was to build an eco-centre of excellence that would meet the need for healthcare in Nigeria and also to help the entire region.