Sanwo-Olu urges more private investment in healthcare

BThe Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has appealed to private institutions and individuals to invest more in health financing as a way to help reduce medical tourism and brain drain.

Sanwo-Olu stressed that there is a need to create an ecosystem where Private Public Partnership would be effective in providing healthcare services to the vulnerable and the weak in society.

Speaking at the official commissioning of Atlantis pediatric and multi-specialist hospital in the Lekki area of the state on Wednesday, the Governor argued that increasing investment in the provision of medical infrastructure and facilities from the public and private sectors would have a combined positive effect in reducing medical tourism and brain drain.

He expressed his administration’s commitment to collaborate with private investors in reducing medical tourism and brain drain through a diagnostic capacity and capability.

He added, “I have no doubt in my mind that the increasing investment in the provision of medical infrastructure and facilities, both from the public and private sector, will have a combined positive effect of significantly reducing what I call the medical tourism and the brain drain in our medical sector and improve access to our people by the quality of health service that they receive.

“As a government, we see the right investment coming into the health sector. We want to reduce the conversation around health tourism and let there be a lot of diagnostic capacity and capability in our country. And there are several, the likes of Atlantis pediatric that are also doing great, great things here in Lagos and different parts of the country.

“I want to challenge other investors that are still sitting on the fence and are thinking that health infrastructure or health financing is not the way to go. It’s not everything that must add up to naira and kobo. It’s your passion. It’s whatever you believe that you can help to improve the quality of health service in our country and to sort of also ensure that whatever God has given to you, you can throw back into the health sector. Because it is one place that when a mistake is made, it’s very difficult for you to reverse it.”

The governor, however, commended the medical director of Atlantis pediatric, Dr Atinuke Uwajeh for coming back to the country to invest in children’s healthcare.

He stressed that the pediatric hospital would complement the government’s effort to improve the state infant and maternal mortality index.

“I salute the vision of the founder, Dr Mrs Atinuke Uwajeh, whose deep desire to contribute to the development of the medical practice in Nigeria led her to relocate from the United States, which she has said, and she’s here now in Nigeria, stuck with us, and to demonstrate her several years in pediatric practice can be brought to first.

“The decision is coupled with her passion for children’s birth in this world-class standard, fully automated pediatric hospital that I am told will cater to the healthcare needs of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

“These 40-bed hospitals that boast of six-bed level three NICU, which is the highest level of critical care, a four-bed ICU, three standard operating theaters and enviable diagnostic laboratories will not only transform our health care landscape but also add to the number of childcare facilities, those rising, raising the capacity of the state medical services and importantly, contributing to improving the state infant and maternal mortality index. And I think that’s a very, very important index that we’re trying to bring down.

“This commissioning marks a significant step towards improving the lives of our people, especially the young people. It also affirms my own government’s commitment and unwavering determination to bridge the gap in the healthcare space by introducing policies aimed at increasing private investment in healthcare to ensure access to high-quality medical services in Lagos, ” the governor noted.

In her remarks, Uwajeh said the hospital was built to become the foremost pediatric and maternal care hospital in sub-Saharan Africa.

She added that the hospital would deliver excellent holistic healthcare to children and women through innovative technology and best practices.

She stated, “Our intent is to contribute our quota towards discouraging medical tourism and, to be one of the leading hospitals reversing brain drain (“Japa” syndrome) into brain gain (“Japada” syndrome).

“I am persuaded that we are able to achieve these, collaborating with other hospitals – both private and public sectors – and the various stakeholders in the health sector.

“Atlantis Pediatric Hospital is a boutique hospital catering to the needs of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.

“It is a 40-bed hospital, inclusive of a 6-bed level 3 NICU, a 4-bed ICU, three standard operating theaters, and an enviable diagnostic laboratory with equipment that is of world-class standard and fully automated to minimize human error.”

The Federal Government had on Sunday, revealed that 55,000 licensed doctors are in the country to attend to the growing population of patients following the exodus of health professionals to hospitals and health facilities abroad.

It said in the last five years, the country lost about 15,000 to 16,000 doctors to the Japa syndrome while about 17,000 had been transferred.

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Ali Pate, lamented that the brain drain syndrome has robbed the health sector of its best hands.

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