By Amby Uneze
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc (SPDC) joint venture partnership have selected Imo State as the choice site to build the COVID-19 Infectious Diseases Medical Centre for the South-east zone.
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Timipre Sylva, disclosed this during the weekend while performing the ground breaking ceremony for a permanent construction of 200-bed Emergency and Infectious Disease Hospital for Eastern Region in Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu, (IMSUTH).
Sylva said that the project is one of the three categories of the NNPC and SPDC intervention initiatives aimed at assisting states in the six geo-political zones to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
He explained that the other key thematic areas of the partnership include the provision of medical consumables and the development of logistics and in-patient support system.
Sylva that other participants in this initiative include international oil companies and indigenous producers, major oil marketers, crude oil and products traders, depot owners and petroleum products marketers.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, the Governor of Imo State, Mr. Hope Uzodimma, expressed gladness over the project whose cmpletion would save lives and make Imo people and environs much healthier.
Uzodimma extended his gratitude to President Mohammmadu Buhari, whose initiative brought the Nigerian oil and gas sector to partner with the state to erect the befitting medical edifice.
The Governor was optimistic that construction of the specialist hospital would effectively control the spread of other contagious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Cholera, Ebola, Avian Flu and Hepatitis.
In his remarks, the Chairman of SPDC, Dr. Ambrose Orjiako, stated that the project is an outcome of NNPC collaboration with SEPLAT to support Imo State towards the strengthening of the state’s efforts in its fight against the management of the current pandemic and to be a centre for the treatment of all forms of infectious diseases.
Orjiako assured that the SPDC would continue to support the state through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) philosophy, which hinged on proactively providing for the wellbeing of citizens of the host states/communities of operations.
He added that the hospital would be completed in eighteen months and fully equipped with medical facilities for sustainable services at the initial cost of about $1.2 million.
Also in his remark, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr. Mele Kolo Kyari, described Imo as the most peaceful operating environment for oil and gas industries in Nigeria.
Kyari also said that a modular refinery would be sited in the state soon.
He noted that the facility is one of the 12 hospitals which the NNPC intended to construct across the six geo-political zones in the country to strengthen the country’s national healthcare delivery facilities in combating the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic sustainably.