NEPZA seeks FEC’s buy-in to establish medical special economic zones
• Frowns on over $2b spent yearly on medical tourism
Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) is soliciting support of Federal Executive Council (FEC) for establishment of what it called medical special economic zones across the country.
The agency assured FEC that if the project is adopted and fully implemented, it would make it possible for government to save over $2 billion spent on medical tourism yearly by Nigerians.
NEPZA recently muted the idea of establishing the medical special economic zones across the six geo-political zones as part of efforts to reduce huge sums spent by Nigerians on medical tourism to Europe and America, a move many believe would lead to saving the much needed foreign exchange for national development.
Managing Director of NEPZA, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, made the request, yesterday, while formally presenting the concept to Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, in Abuja.
Adesugba said NEPZA, in its attempt to use the zone scheme to speed up the country’s industrialisation process, found it expedient to extend such mandate to scaling-up the country’s healthcare system.
According to a statement issued yesterday, and signed by NEPZA Head of Media, Martins Odeh, Adesugba explained that it was important for the concept to be adopted by FEC as a national project, adding that such show of political-will was needed to ward-off investors’ fears and reservations.
The presentation provided a basis and justification for a notice to be made by the minister to FEC for buy-in and support to commence the project.
The NEPZA boss also provided rationale for the project, based on COVID-19 effect, explaining that the prevalence of communicable and non-communicable diseases in a more threatening manner necessitated the urgent need to improve and invest in the country’s healthcare.
He stated that “the over $2 billion capital flight on medical tourism yearly is a needless astronomical cost of medical services abroad, which has a serious negative effect on the economy.”
According to Adesugba, the project, when established, would showcase Nigeria’s potential as a medical tourism destination.
He outlined NEPZA’s vision for the medical zones with details on the pilot project, benefits to Nigeria, criteria for site selection, criteria for success, steps taken to date, including stakeholders engagement, gazetting of medical special economic zones in 3rd schedule of activities, state engagement, budget allocation and proposed implementation strategy.
The minister expressed delight in the initiative and promised to take it to FEC for consideration.
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