How NSIA is Supporting Nigeria’s COVID-19

0

Hamid Ayodeji
The quality of health care in any country is a vital component of the standard of living. Indeed, it can be argued that healthcare is the most significant component of meaningful amongst the indicators of the quality of life.

No wonder the popular saying that, “health is wealth” has remained evergreen. Inasmuch as life is the greatest gift of God to man, the provision of health care facilities is needed in superfluity in order that life may be sustained on earth.

Unfortunately, in today’s Nigeria, the provision of health care facilities seems to still be at low ebb as many Nigerians remain vulnerably exposed to the danger of untimely and preventable deaths.
This situation accounts for the huge spend on medical tourism by citizens, which by some reports was in excess of $1billion in 2013 and continues to increase.

With a projected population of 263 million by 2030, the current slow pace of investments in health care infrastructure, poor condition of existing infrastructure, under-funding and mismanagement of existing facilities, inadequate equipment, undertraining of health workers and deficiencies in domestic pharmaceutical industry and have indeed called for an emergency response.

Concerned by these developments and in alignment with government’s broader agenda to reverse the trend of medical tourism, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) had prioritised the health sector as one of its six strategic investment areas of focus.

This is because as a manager of the Future Generation Fund, one cannot talk about the future generation without being healthy or alive and this is one of the reasons why the NSIA is investing in this sector as a strategic and important area for Nigeria.

The NSIA is also of the view that the health sector has suffered some years of neglect and as such, equipment that are needed in certain facilities are either inadequate or obsolete or both.

With the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, which has infected more than 122,000 people and killed over 1,500 according to statistics from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, it has become compelling to boost the level of investment in the health sector.
While the past five years have witnessed remarkable private and public sector efforts to develop Nigeria’s health care sector, some experts are of the view that the impact of these efforts on reducing the challenges in the health sector is still marginal.

However, it is clear that after decades of sub-optimal performance, and near lack of seriousness, there is noticeable momentum by stakeholders under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to chart a new and more progressive path forward.
Now more than ever before, there is a growing need to impact the quality of lives of Nigerians, particularly the poor and vulnerable through a decent health care system and this is a huge step towards providing necessary comfort for the citizens.

To achieve this, the Board of the NSIA will on Thursday, formally hand over 126 units of Patient Monitors and 63 units of Oxygen Concentrators to 21 Healthcare Institutions across the six geopolitical zones of the country as part of the Authority’s COVID-19 relief programme.

The project would be inaugurated by top government officials such as the Secretary to the Federal Government, Mr. Boss Mustapha; the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning Mrs. Zainab Ahmed; the Minister of Health Dr Osagie Enahire; and the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu.
Also expected at the event are the Chief Medical Directors of the 21-target medical centres, the Board of NSIA, and representatives of Civil Society Organisations.

The donation of the health equipment is part of measures aimed at supporting the containment of the recent surge in the reported cases of Covid-19 infections in Nigeria and the significant impact this development may have on the economy.
The NSIA said it is donating the medical equipment to augment the Federal Government’s ongoing effort to enhance clinical care available to Covid-19 patients and add to the stock of critical medical equipment needed in hospitals across the country.

The Board of NSIA said it is hopeful that this modest contribution will go a long way towards supporting the management of Covid-19 cases and enhancing the efforts of the frontline responders providing care and treatment to people already infected with the virus.

The items constitute a commitment of resources which NSIA expects will be crucial for the long-term sustainability of domestic healthcare centres and their treatments programs.
The NSIA said it recognizes the fact that many of these centres struggled with patient care at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and with the surge being experience under the second wave, they may struggle even more.

Even though it had been established that the number of ventilators in the country was inadequate to meet the domestic requirement, an even more daunting challenge was experienced with respect to ICU and Regular monitors as well as Oxygen Concentrators which are all required to treat early stages of many respiratory ailments and thereby give patients a fighting chance.

The NSIA said its objective in the donation of this equipment is to bridge this gap. While the decision to donate equipment to these target institutions is part of NSIA’s broader COVID-19 intervention to augment government’s ongoing efforts, the donation of the items represent a more strategic approach to enhance patient care by adding to the stock of critical medical equipment needed nationwide.

Speaking on the plan to donate the equipment, the Managing Director, NSIA, Mr. Uche Orji, said the Authority expects that the supply of these equipment will help in alleviating the inventory gaps in these hospitals.
With the nation’s economy still in recovery, Orji said the Board was of the view that there is the need to add to this stock of critical medical equipment required for the containment of the virus in Nigeria.

The NSIA Boss said the supply of oxygen concentrators and patient monitors is expected to boost Government’s efforts to provide an efficient and effective healthcare response for those affected by the virus.
He said, “With the nation’s economy still in recovery, and medical facilities in need of additional government support to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 virus, the Board felt the need to add to this stock of critical medical equipment required for the containment of the virus in Nigeria.

“The supply of oxygen concentrators and patient monitors – a gap identified during the first wave is expected to boost Government’s efforts to provide an efficient and effective healthcare response for those affected by the virus.
“We expect that these equipment would strengthen government’s capacity to minimize potential fatalities.”
The donation of the equipment would be coming about five months after the Federal Government unveiled the World Class Umuahia Diagnostic Centre.

The NSIA had invested over $20 million in establishing three ultramodern healthcare centres of excellence in the country. Recently, up to $5.5 million was invested in the establishment of the ultra-modern medical diagnostic centre which is located within the premises of the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia, Abia state.

Prior to this, a diagnostic centres had been established in Kano at the Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital (AKTH) and a Cancer treatment centre was set up within the premises of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).
NSIA’s investment strategy in the healthcare sector is to partner with both public and private institutions to create Centres of Excellence in the healthcare delivery in Nigeria, focusing on diagnostics, tertiary healthcare targeting non-communicable diseases and medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

NSIA funded the construction of its diagnostic centres, including the acquisition and installation of modern laboratory and radiology equipment which will aid the provision of comprehensive diagnostics for the delivery of the highest quality of services.

The investment is providing improved diagnostic service delivery within the South Eastern geopolitical zone, reduce waiting times for high quality diagnostic services at FMCU and improve affordability of high-quality tests to patients.
It would also help to provide high quality training opportunities for local professionals.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed had said “President Buhari’s administration is placing a focus on greater investment in the healthcare sector and working to ensure increased access to safe, high quality service for every Nigerian.”
She further highlighted the fact that “investment in healthcare is critical to a thriving economy as a healthy people are an enabler for productivity.”