President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed gratitude to the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) for financing the construction of African Medical Centre of Excellence located in Nigeria.

Speaking at the virtual groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, the President noted that the hospital project will significantly transform the healthcare sector in the West African sub-region.

The health project is being implemented by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in partnership with the Federal Government, Kings College Hospital, London, University of Wisconsin Teaching Hospital, USA and Christies Hospital, Manchester.

“It is my pleasure to preside over the groundbreaking ceremony of the Africa Medical Center of Excellence, Abuja, Nigeria. Today represents more than just the groundbreaking ceremony for a landmark hospital project that will significantly transform the healthcare sector in West Africa.

“Today also demonstrates the commitment of the Nigerian Government and Afreximbank to the wellbeing of the African people, and the recognition that the wealth of a Nation rests squarely on the health of its population,” he said.

According to the President, in addition to providing comprehensive care across the three critical care areas, the AMCE will offer educational services to develop talent and establish itself as a world-class research centre, in partnership with global institutions such as Kings College Hospital and Christie’s Hospital in the United Kingdom.

“The success of the AMCE will pave the way for future investments and partnerships in the sector while raising the local standard of healthcare and providing a blueprint for quality of services required to address Nigeria’s and Africa’s healthcare and economic challenges.

“The AMCE represents a return to fundamentals and the understanding that there is no African development agenda without able-bodied Africans to execute our vision of transformation,” he said.

Buhari thanked the management of Afreximbank and all the partners for their commitment to Africa, and for the action-oriented approach to resolving the challenges that the continent faces on its path to development.

“Cardiovascular ailments, cancers and hematological disorders have increasingly become matters of concern to public health care. These ailments are now the highest contributors to non-communicable disease mortality, representing more than 81% of all NCD deaths in West Africa.”

“The World Health Organization projects that deaths on the African continent attributable to cancer and diabetes are expected to rise over the next 10 years. The rising NCD burden coupled with inadequate medical infrastructure on the continent threatens the future of our people.

“Right now, many hospitals in the West African region are underfunded, under-equipped, understaffed and relatively inaccessible to most patients, especially from rural areas.

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“Inasmuch as this represents an opportunity for investment in African healthcare, it has not necessarily translated into increased investment activity in this most pressing area that requires intervention.

“This problem is further exacerbated by the significant brain drain experienced by the continent. The flight of doctors and nurses to other continents has resulted in a significant gap between the required treatments for NCDs and the available treatments and care.

“The above challenges combine to create a regional health market with poor access to critical services and low perception of quality of care available,’’ the President noted.

“The AMCE, a 500-bed specialist facility, will provide services in the areas of oncology, cardiology, and haematology and will seek to address the significant shortage of clinical care options in the West African sub-region.

“The AMCE demonstrates that Afreximbank is not only Africa’s trade finance partner but its development partner.

“I also would like to commend the Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment, Foreign Affairs, Federal Capital Territory and Health for their tireless support to ensuring this project comes to life. This was truly a team effort,’’ the President added.

In his remarks, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said all hands are on deck, with the Inter-ministerial Committee working to ensure that the project is actualized in a way that is beneficial to all parties.

The Minister said a strong emphasis will be placed on the maintenance and sustainability of the AMCE.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of Afreximbank said the ceremony was “one step towards self-reliance for Africa’s health care delivery,”.

Oramah noted that the 500-bed and estimated 300 million US dollar-AMCE was conceived to promote intra-African medical tourism and reduce the outflow of over 7 billion US dollars annually in outbound medical tourism.

He added that the vision for AMCE was borne out of a personal experience he encountered following his recovery from a potentially life-threatening blood disorder.

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