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Lagos initiates medical tourism centres to address desire for overseas healthcare

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Ibrahim Quadri

In its bid to tackle the desire of Nigerians especially the elites to travel abroad for healthcare, Lagos State Government has come up with Medical Tourism initiative for the state to emerge as medical hub in West Africa.

The State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi made the disclosure during the ongoing ministerial press briefing on Wednesday to mark the first anniversary of the second term in office of the State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu in Alausa, Ikeja.

The initiative would focuse on establishing specialized centers that offer advanced medical treatments and technologies that were usually sought overseas.

Abayomi said, “Lagos State is engaging in partnerships with reputed healthcare institutions from around the world. These collaborations help in the transfer of knowledge, medical expertise, and technological advancements.

“The Centers of Excellence and Medical Tourism initiative in Lagos State is a crucial part of the government’s strategic efforts to position the state as a hub for high-quality healthcare services in West Africa.

“This initiative focuses on establishing specialized centers that offer advanced medical treatments and technologies that are typically sought overseas, thus retaining healthcare spending within the region and attracting international patients. The government is keen to see this replicated in the private sector and is exploring opportunities for creating an economic environment that encourages the private sector to follow suit.

“The initiative involves setting up centers of excellence in various high-demand specialties such as cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, and neurology. These centers, the ones already established, are, and would be for those that are not established, equipped with state-of-the-art technology and staffed by specialists trained to deliver care at global standards. An excellent example of this initiative is the proposed Comprehensive Cancer Center, slated to be located at Alausa in Ikeja.”

The Commissioner added, “This facility is designed to provide a full spectrum of cancer care services, from early detection and diagnosis through various treatment modalities to palliative care. This center aims to reduce the need for Nigerians and residents of neighboring countries to travel abroad for cancer treatment, thereby retaining healthcare expenditure within the local economy and attracting patients from other regions.”

He added it is aimed to attract patients from within Nigeria, across the region and globally, saying the initiative would boost the local economy and serve as a medical hub.

“By offering high-quality medical services that meet or exceed international standards, Lagos State aims to attract patients not only from within Nigeria but also from across the region and globally. This will not only boost the local economy but also enhances the reputation of Lagos as a medical hub.

“To ensure that the centers of excellence are on par with international healthcare facilities, Lagos State is engaging in partnerships with reputed healthcare institutions from around the world. These collaborations help in the transfer of knowledge, medical expertise, and technological advancements.

“Significant investments are being made into healthcare infrastructure, including the construction of facilities specifically designed to cater to the needs of international patients. This includes the development of patient-friendly spaces, high-end accommodation facilities, and other amenities that enhance the medical tourism experience.

“To support the centers of excellence, Lagos State is implementing strict regulatory measures and quality assurance systems to maintain high standards of medical care. This includes regular accreditation of facilities and continuous professional development for medical staff, through our regulatory agencies such as HEFAMAA.”

Also as part of measures to address infrastructure in health sector, the Commissioner stated, “Our infrastructure development strategy involves both the construction of new healthcare facilities and the substantial renovation of existing ones. This dual approach ensures that all facilities—from primary care centers to tertiary hospitals—are equipped to deliver high-quality healthcare services.

“We have close to 30 high volume General Hospitals in Lagos and we are systematically doing a deep and thorough refurbishment to ensure that eventually we totally modernize all of them.”

According to him, the first batch for the modernization are the Lagos Island, Isolo, Harvey, Ajeromi and Ibeju Lekki GHs.

Out of over 300 PHCs, Abayomi pointed out that about 100 require deep renovations,, adding work had commenced on the first batch of 20 PHC renovations and would continue till all existing PHCs were in good physical condition.

He went further to disclose that “Notable projects in the Blueprint that are currently in construction include the new 150-bed Massey Children’s Specialist Hospital, the 280-bed Ojo General Hospital, the 500-bed Ketu Ejinrin Mental Health Institute and the 120 bed Shomolu General Hospital.

“The National target for PHC distribution is 1 PHC per Ward and we are committed to meeting this standard. In this regard and as a first step we have commenced the construction of 4 brand new Primary Healthcare centers in Iworo, Ikaare, Idafa and Agunfoye.

“We are also preparing five more sites at Ogba Ojodu, Owutu Ikorodu, Agbado, Oke Ogbe and Agbowa for brand-new Flagship PHC prototypes.

“All these facilities are designed to cater specifically to the needs of Lagosians, ensuring a broad reach of healthcare services across the state. Modernizing healthcare infrastructure goes beyond physical buildings; it also involves integrating advanced medical technologies which include the installation of state-of-the-art medical equipment such as ventilators, cardiac monitors, and anesthetic machines, particularly in critical care areas.

“These enhancements transform the capabilities of facilities like the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and some of our larger General Hospitals, enabling them to provide top-tier emergency and intensive care services.” the Commissioner stated.

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