• Friday, May 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

‘Healthcare is a social concern that has long-term economic implications’-Elumelu

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My purpose as chairman of the Committee is to lead the team in strategically planning and implementing an effective program to ensure that it delivers on its expressed mandate. I therefore provide the strategic guidance and motivation to keep us all focused on our goal of instituting President Goodluck Jonathan’s vision for world-class healthcare services in Nigeria that are increasingly accessible to all citizens.

I also ensure that decisions taken are implemented efficiently to further the national mission and goals for the health sector. It is fulfilling to be able to drive such a critical initiative that will help to boost human capital development in Nigeria with strong support provided by C. O. Onyebuchi Chukwu, the capable minister of health.

Feasibility of project and deadlines

The existence of this Committee reflects the passion and commitment of Onyebuchi Chukwu, whose foresight enabled its speedy creation with high calibre professionals drawn from both the public and private sectors. The Committee’s mandate, as delivered by the Honourable Minister for Health, is ambitious and that is good.

Our healthcare sector, and indeed our nation, requires bold and decisive actions to bring about much-needed improvements. Given the current state of healthcare service delivery and the limited access to high-quality services, the Committee has developed a holistic approach to drive positive change. For instance, we have been working to have the Bill of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) amended to ensure universal health insurance coverage for all Nigerians. In six months, the Bill was passed by the House of Representatives and is now awaiting the same at the Senate. In addition, we continue to push for the speedy enactment of a National Health Bill to enable the creation of a robust health system in Nigeria with appropriate regulation and world class standards for service provision. As we tackle the vital “soft” issues, we are also working to facilitate the physical establishment of world class hospitals and diagnostic centres across the country. It is an ambitious plan – but it is required and we are committed to doing our best to fulfill our mandate.

Mode of project execution

The Committee has adopted a holistic approach that involves strategic partnerships and active participation by key actors in the public and private sectors. We have created four working groups to address the policy, regulation, finance, and strategic issues around this project. The working groups are capably headed by renowned experts in their fields, including Andrew Alli, CEO of the Africa Finance Corporation; Adeleke Oshunniyi, director of the Royal Cross Medical Centre; Charles Cudjoe, chief medical director at Chasel Hospital, and Mike Chukwu, founder and CEO of Assetwise Capital.

The Government, as the initiator and owner, will provide resources, which will be complemented by private capital from investors. In this regard, we are also enlisting the support of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the coordinating minister of the economy and minister of finance, and her Economic Management Implementation Team to facilitate the necessary approvals to aid our work.

Ultimately, this plan requires a concerted and collaborative approach that involves the active involvement of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Federal and State Governments, and indeed all Nigerians.

Health Bank

We are open to all viable options and are carefully assessing what is feasible and what would be most effective. We may not necessarily push for a “Health Bank” as there are a variety of strategic options to raise capital. We will review all possibilities and will make guided and informed recommendations on what we feel is best.

Challenges of finance in healthcare

Healthcare is a social concern that has long-term economic implications. It therefore cannot be viewed from a purely commercial perspective, as is the case with other sectors. As such, we are keen to ensure the appropriate balance to facilitate projects that are viable, while also generating positive externalities (development outcomes) for all stakeholders.

This will necessarily require financing structures with attractive terms that strengthen the bankability of the proposed transactions. This is also akin to my concept of “Africapitalism,” which calls for long-term private investment in strategic sectors of the economy that generate economic prosperity and social wealth.

 

KEMI AJUMOBI