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Ned Nwoko emphasises increased investment in health sector

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Sen. Ned Nwoko (PDP-Delta) has emphasised the need for increased investment in the health sector to give Nigerians the best healthcare services.

He made the call on Monday in Abuja during the launch of an expanded Caroline Medical Centre.

Nwoko who is a member, Senate Committee on Primary Healthcare and Disease Control, said that such investments should not be in government hospitals alone, but private institutions also.

He also said that focus should be on training and upgrading medical personnel and to try to bring back those who emigrated for greener pastures.

Nwoko, representing Delta North Senatorial District, said “there is need to encourage medical experts who left the country for greener pastures to return and assist.

“Part of what I have decided to do is to sponsor a motion that all federal medical centres must be of high standard, we should be able to have a semblance of  facilities in other countries.

“It does not cost too much to buy those equipment and we have very good and well-trained doctors.”

While launching the new facility, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate, said the centre stands as a testament to the renewed focus on healthcare by the Federal Government.

Represented by Prof. Muhammad Mahmud, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), National Hospital Abuja (NHA), Pate listed investment in infrastructure, equipment, human resources and clinical governance systems as essential parts of the President’s agenda.

He said “this facility is more than just a building; it is a symbol of progress, a shining light in our fight against the burden of medical tourism and the high mortality rate associated with renal diseases that afflict our citizens.

“Caroline Medical Centre is a symbol of hope for Nigerians. It promises to provide world-class treatment right here at home, reducing the need for Nigerians to go abroad for medical care.

“This commitment to the well-being of Nigerians means access to better health, life-saving treatments, and a brighter future.

“By keeping this promise, the centre is helping to build a healthier, more prosperous Nigeria.”

He, however, said that to meet the target of health for all, Ministry of Health focused on improving the quality of governance in the health sector and improving population health outcomes by increasing the efficiencies of healthcare service delivery.

It would also ensure medical industrialisation by unlocking the value chains and prioritise health security, he added.

The CMD of the centre, Dr Elijah Miner, said that regarding treatment of kidney diseases, the cost of medical tourism is over one billion dollars.

According to him, it is a lot of money and the only way to reverse the trend is by having such centres.

“It requires our people to be engaged. Just like we have done this, you can imagine a private enterprise being able to do this and the government can do a lot more, so we look forward to that.”

Miner said that the centre, which started operations four years ago, carried out dialysis on over 1000 patients and also carried out about 100 kidney transplants.

On whether there would be some kind of partnership, he said government may not be able to provide funds for the private sector but could help by providing some kind of succour to patients.

“It will be for those that are having dialysis and those that are having transplants. Some countries are doing it so this is the way forward.

“The only way to subsidise is for us to start producing the consumables in Nigeria. If you cannot do that then you are left at the mercy of those that produce them and they have increased prices, so it has become extremely expensive.

“That is why once government comes in, what it can do is to shore up and support dialysis patients, which is the only way to help in the interim.

“Ultimately, we should produce our own consumables, do our own surgeries and hopefully produce our own dialysis machines.”

A patient on dialysis, Mr Itoro Out, said he was diagnosed of Chronic Kidney Disease in 2022 and since then, he had been on dialysis.

He said it had not been easy but it is something one has to deal with and manage.

“I am planning to have a transplant. The cost of managing the disease is very expensive, though some of us have families that are here for us but some people cannot, especially with the situation we are in Nigeria now, it can be very difficult.

“We urge government to subsidise the treatment the way HIV/AIDS is subsidised for both dialysis patients and people that have done transplant because if you do transplant, the drugs too are very expensive.

“Sometimes, you save up to N23 million to carry out the transplant and still live on drugs till death and these drugs are not cheap at all so they should be subsidised”, he added. (NAN)

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