1. That our government that has shown that building a ten lane expressway from the airport to the city in Abuja is an absolute priority.
2. This is so important that the funding to do this was derived from funds previously allocated to health and education.
3. And finally that unless we push health up the political agenda, our people will continue to suffer.
In making these points I put up a picture of a hospital I had come across in Abuja which the people living around had told me we was Utako General Hospital. I found it in a derelict state, yet the quality of the building suggested that it was built to the same high standards of many other buildings in Abuja.
I WAS WRONG...this is NOT Utako General Hospital!
This used to be the Abuja International Diagnostic Centre in Utako built in the late nineties. It was apparently the brain child of Dr Benjamin Ohiaeri of First Consultants Medical Centre Lagos, built and initially managed by the International Hospital Group (it is still advertised as one of their projects). The picture below was sent to us by a member of staff who worked there for the few years that it functioned.
You will remember the International Hospital Group. It was brought in from the UK in 2003 to manage our National Hospital in Abuja for 10 years. It was sacked a year later for incompetence following a report that concluded that "The National Hospital was a bottomless pit, with little to show for it by way of palpable improvement in the quantum and quality of care".
The Abuja International Diagnostic Centre (don't we love BIG names?) project was financed inter alia with a World Bank IFC loan of 2.5 million dollars (find details in 1999 annual report on their website here).
It is said to have thirty something single large rooms (obviously not intentioned for the average Nigerian...) and I am reliably informed that is full of the same "high tech" medical diagnostic equipment similar to those apparently procured by Obasanjo's government via the Vamed project ....including a CAT scanner that is said never to have been used!
What is IFC? From their website...the International Finance Coorporation "fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing capital in the international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments. IFC helps companies and financial institutions in emerging markets create jobs, generate tax revenues, improve corporate governance and environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities. The goal is to improve lives, especially for the people who most need the benefits of growth."
BUT it is difficult to blame the IFC! This is not the only IFC project in Nigeria as in 2007 they reached an agreement with Hygeia Nigeria to upgrade hospitals in Apapa and Ikeja and the reconstruction of a third hospital, on Victoria Island. The most well-known project financed by the IFC in Nigeria is "The Palms Shopping Centre" in Lekki, Lagos....
So why would a health care venture as big as this fail in a country like this where even our very own president has to go abroad to receive basic health care. Another contradiction of the country we call our own.
At least we will have our 10 lanes into Abuja!