The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Kings College Hospital (KCH) London, and the Nigerian Ministry of Health have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate in developing a centre of excellence for healthcare in Nigeria. The centre will specialise in the treatment of cancer and sickle-cell diseases and will cover four broad areas of medical practice including:
Following a strategic alliance formed in 2014 between Afreximbank and KCH to establish a network of centres of excellence in tertiary healthcare across Africa, Nigeria was selected as host country for the first centre based on a macro-economic and sectoral study.
Under the terms of the MoU signed in Abuja on 17 July 2017, Afreximbank, the Ministry of Health and KCH will collaborate in the development of the centre by working together to raise funding and develop relationships. They will also collaborate to build capacity, provide technical support and promote integration with national and private healthcare insurance schemes while also exchanging information and building links to teaching hospitals and other training facilities. The agreement allows for special privileges to be granted by Nigeria to ensure optimal implementation of the project.
The Nigerian healthcare industry has noted an exponential increase in interest over the past 24 months as investors including the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, Abraaj, AXA Mansard, African Capital Alliance, IFC and many others take positions. The inherent opportunity lies in the large undersupply of hospital beds that can provide quality care for the Nigerian populace and the large amounts of money that leaves the country to medical tourism annually. The Nigerian government (State and Federal alike) is also noting the importance of healthcare in eliminating poverty.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank said,
“It is well known that Africans are among the largest populations that travel for medical services globally, with Nigeria alone spending about $1 billion in medical tourism… As a Bank, we want to contribute towards changing this pattern. This is why we launched the Centre of Excellence initiative, in partnership with KCH, to foster the emergence of world class medical facilities and research centres across the continent.”
In his remarks, Prof. Ghulam Mufti, a non-executive director of the Board of KCH and a professor of haematological oncology at the hospital, said that the centre would ensure that Nigeria was in a better position to deal with ailments that are common in Africa, especially non-communicable diseases that had seen rising incidence due to changing lifestyles. According to him, the parenting from KCH will ensure a strong research component and the transmigration of latest technological and clinical advances to the centre, which will be key in attracting medical professionals from the Diaspora.
Afreximbank launched the Health and Medical Tourism Programme in 2014 to foster the emergence of world class medical and research infrastructure across Africa while also promoting employment, increasing intra-African medical tourism, limiting foreign exchange outflows and enabling African countries to diversify their economies, particularly in terms of service exports, in line with its IMPACT 2021 strategy.