Foreign investors to partner stakeholders in sector
Medic West African Exhibition, 2016 held at the Eko Convention Centre, Lagos may have come and gone but the opportunities it generated may well lead to a revolution in our healthcare system. Of note was the presence of large number of international health facilities and organizations that showed their interest to partner with stakeholder in our healthcare sector.
At the Saudi German Hospital, Dubai (SGHD) stand, one of the foreign companies in attendance, the question that dominated most of the discussion was, “are you coming to establish in Nigeria? The visitors were simply attracted by the profile of the hospital group, with facilities ranging from 300 – 400 beds, spread all over the Middle East and North Africa. The one in Dubai is just one in the group.
More than being impressed with the profile, the question was an indirect statement of indictment of our government, expressing frustration with our healthcare system; and the urgent need to upgrade it, and perhaps, stem the tide of medical tourism abroad.
Every year, millions of dollar is spent in hospitals abroad by Nigerians seeking one medical attention or the other. The government is yet to find any answer to stem the tide, nor is their any indication that they would do so in the near future; and so the trend is likely to continue, even more, into the future.
The state of the teaching hospitals is a cause for concern. With the recession occasioned by the dwindling oil revenue, the purchase of new equipments and or replacement of obsolete ones is hardly anticipated; thus a worsening situation of our healthcare facilities.
To compound the problem, the Naira devaluation has made the cost of procurement of the equipments needed in the hospitals, as with other things, prohibitive.
The private sector is not helping matter either. Rather than see the opportunity in the health sector, they are all rushing in to invest in the oil sector. The result is citizen fleeing to other lands, mostly India, for medical treatment. For those who cannot, it is a matter of “bless you”.
In the meantime, the country seem to have caught up, and even overtaken the developed world in diseases which were hitherto rare in the country; like lung disease, cancer, kidney disease, owing to a change of lifestyle.
Organ transplant has become a vogue. Meanwhile, the country made no provision in the healthcare sector in anticipation of the after effect.“Are you coming to establish here in Nigeria? We are tired of going to India for treatment. And the government is not doing something about it. Look at our hospitals, people die daily from sickness that can be treated. The teaching hospitals lack equipment”, lamented Chibuzor Chikwudozie, a visitor from Onitsha, South Eastern Nigeria, citing recent cases of some pregnant women who died in the course of delivery. “Look at Onitsha”, he added, “there is no single big hospital; come to the east, we will give you land”.
According to Dr. George Davis, Manager, Business Development International; and Semira Dikbas, International Patients Affairs Advisor, of the hospital, they have the intention; and in fact, have been to the country several times in the last one year to study the environment, and find the right partners.
“The visit is to further consolidate earlier one, and to present our services to Nigerians. For the meantime, in case of medical indication, check up, medical tourism and other services, the patient has to visit our hospital in Dubai”.
“The cost of our services, compared to India, is slightly higher but very affordable. It would come down when we come to Nigeria”Cosmetrix, a centre for Plastic Surgery, one of the new additions to range of services provided by Saudi German Hospital, Dubai was also on display; adding glamour and traffic at their stand. Botox, tummy tuck, breast augmentation, breast reduction, fillers, abdominaplasty, among others, are services offered at the Centre.
As someone said, “we go to India for medical tourism, and Dubai for business and leisure; now with Saudi German Hospital Dubai, we have all in one place”.