REMARKS BY THE HONORABLE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, DURING MEDIA TOUR OF DUCHESS HOSPITAL IN LAGOS 10 MAY 2022
I am most delighted to be here today, leading a team of over 30 journalists drawn from the print, electronic and social media on a media tour of the facilities of Duchess International Hospital. I had planned to be here for the commissioning of this facility on Oct. 22nd 2021, but that didn’t work out. However, nothing could have beaten this visit that allowed my team and I to undertake a guided tour of this hospital – which we have just concluded.
2. We are here today in continuation of our media tour of development projects in all sectors of the economy and all facets of life. Within the past 40 days, we have undertaken three tours, starting with the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Project as well as the Dangote Fertilizer Company on April 3rd 2022, to the Lekki Deep Seaport last week and now to the Duchess International Hospital today. Before then we had toured a modular refinery in Ibigwe, Imo State; the DPR in Lagos; roads across the six geopolitical zones, Second Niger and Loko-Oweto Bridges in the South East and North Central respectively; Abuja-Kaduna and Lagos-Ibadan rail projects and the Abuja Metroline Project, among others. The essence of these tours is to showcase what this Administration has achieved in the various sectors. Even where the project is private-sector driven, the Federal Government has either provided the enabling environment or, in some cases, supported with funding.
3. Today, we are here at the Duchess International Hospital. During the guided tour, I am sure you all saw that this is indeed a purpose-built, state-of-the-art, 100-bed hospital, which is aimed at delivering the highest standard of healthcare, using the most advanced technology and treatments to provide Nigerians with the best medical expertise available anywhere in the world. Yes, the Federal Government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bank of Industry, provided financial support for Duchess International Hospital. This is not new. Recall that in the wake of Covid-19, the CBN set up the N100 billion Healthcare Sector Intervention Fund, now expanded to N200 billion, to provide credit support for the healthcare sector through long-term, low-cost financing.
4. Gentlemen, you are also aware of the Federal Government’s Intervention in the Healthcare Sector through the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). The NSIA has invested a total of $22.5 million in two diagnostic centers in Kano and Umuahia ($5.5 million each) and the NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre in Lagos ($11.5 million). The NSIA is also committed to building a new quaternary hospital in Abuja.
5. The essence of these financial interventions and projects in the critical healthcare sector is to fast-track the evolvement of world class healthcare facilities like this Duchess International Hospital. With that, we can conserve our foreign reserves, earn foreign exchange for the country, create jobs, reverse brain drain, become a destination for medical tourists and also ensure affordable and standard healthcare for Nigerians. According to available records, Nigerians spend between USD1.2 and USD1.6 billion on medical tourism. That’s a huge drain on our foreign reserves. Also, in order to retain doctors, our healthcare facilities must be equipped to world standard level and doctors and other healthcare workers must be adequately remunerated. Of course, facilities like Duchess International are veritable tools for job creation, in additional to attracting medical tourists from across the world.
6. I am sure the questions on the lips of many here would be how affordable this hospital is, especially for ordinary Nigerians. Fittingly, the management of Duchess Hospital has answered that question by launching the ‘World Class Affordable Healthcare Programme’, the details of which have been provided by the hospital……….
7. With what we have seen here today and the Programme that has just been launched, Nigerians can now get access to affordable and world class treatment in whatever is ailing them in many areas, including emergency medicine, women’s health, paediatric care, cardiovascular medicine, kidney dialysis, dental treatment, eye care, etc.
8. Gentlemen, with more world class healthcare facilities like Duchess Hospital coming on stream, Nigeria is set become a destination for medical tourists, instead of having our citizens travel yearly and spending over N500 billion for medical tourism. We as a country will also conserve our foreign reserves while earning foreign exchange: we will begin to reverse the brain drain in the health sector; create jobs and provide affordable and standard healthcare for our people. It’s a new dawn for the health sector and we are proud of what Duchess and other healthcare facilities are doing in bringing about this new dawn.
9. I thank you for your kind attention