Afreximbank, FG commences $300million African Medical Centre of Excellence in Abuja


*Says, facility will serve low, high-income patients across West African

By Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in collaboration with the Federal Government and other partners have commenced the construction of the first African Medical Centre of Excellence (AMCE) in Abuja.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Afreximbank said, the 500-bed facility, estimated at $300 million will be run in partnership with Kings College Hospital, London.

Oramah, who said it is unacceptable that more than 200,000 Africans travel to Asia alone for medical services disclosed that the project is geared towards serving low and high-income patients from across the entire West African region.

Speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony of the medical centre in Apo-Kabusa, Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari said the centre would provide world-class medical services at par with the world’s most prestigious hospitals, thus restoring trust in the local health system.

President Buhari who performed the ceremony virtually said, the success of AMCE would pave the way for future investments and partnerships in the sector while raising the local standard of healthcare.

He said that it would also provide a blueprint for the quality of services required to address Nigeria and Africa’s healthcare and economic challenges simultaneously.

Buhari said the rising non-communicable diseases (NCD) burden in Africa is well established and undeniable, adding that coupled with inadequate medical infrastructure on the continent, it makes for a lethal combination that threatens the future of our people.

He said, “This problem is further exacerbated by the significant brain drain experienced by the continent, with our best brightest in the medical profession being attracted to career opportunities abroad resulting in a significant gap between the required treatments for NCDs and the available treatments.

“It is my pleasure to preside over the groundbreaking ceremony of the Africa Medical Centre of Excellence, Abuja, Nigeria. Today represents more than just the groundbreaking ceremony for a landmark hospital project that will significantly transform the healthcare sector in West Africa.

“Today also demonstrates the commitment of the Nigerian Government and Afreximbank to the wellbeing of the African people, and the recognition that the wealth of a Nation rests squarely on the health of its population,” he said.

According to the President, in addition to providing comprehensive care across the three critical care areas, the AMCE will offer educational services to develop talent and establish itself as a world-class research centre, in partnership with global institutions such as Kings College Hospital and Christies Hospital in the United Kingdom.

“The success of the AMCE will pave the way for future investments and partnerships in the sector while raising the local standard of healthcare and providing a blueprint for quality of services required to address Nigeria’s and Africa’s healthcare and economic challenges.

“The AMCE represents a return to fundamentals, and the understanding that there is no African development agenda without able-bodied Africans to execute our vision of transformation,” he said.

Earlier in his welcome address, Prof. Oramah lamented that over $5 billion US dollars is spent each year on medical tourism.

Out of this figure, he said, Nigeria accounts for $1 billion of that expenditure issue adding that free export of African health care and health data also poses a threat.

While thanking Buhari for his support, he said the construction of the centre will be completed in 30 months.

Oramah said that the centre was conceived to promote intra African medical tourism and to reduce the outflow of over seven billion US dollars in aggregate that the continent spends on medical tourism abroad annually.

He said AMCE is one step towards self-reliance for Africa’s health care delivery, saying the project will pool world-class technology and global talents, particularly the African diaspora, to provide a full spectrum of quality medical services in oncology, haematology, cardiology, and general healthcare services.

Ghulam Mufti, a professor of Hemato-Oncology, King’s College Hospital, London, and Medical Adviser on the AMCE Project, said it will create an infrastructure to provide clinical trials infrastructure biobanking and to attract pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to work with the centre of excellence, both in providing new drugs and in but initiating research with other global institutions, both in Europe as well as in the United States.

Also, Sir Hugh Taylor, Chairman of King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“At King’s we have a long history of providing specialist healthcare locally, nationally and internationally.

“We are proud to be extending our clinical expertise in services such as haematology and cardiology to benefit the people of Nigeria, and Africa more generally”.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire , stressed the need for all hands to be on deck, with the Inter-ministerial Committee working to ensure that the project is actualised in a way that is beneficial to all parties.

The Minister said a strong emphasis will be placed on maintenance and sustainability of the AMCE.

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