By Segun Fatuase
ABUJA – African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) on Tuesday started the construction of the African Medical Centre of Excellence (AMCE) billed to provide world class healthcare across the continent in long-term partnership with King’s College Hospital, London (KCH), the official clinical partner for the AMCE.
The Abuja AMCE, which is due for commissioning in the first quarter of 2024, is expected to enhance service exports providing healthcare to over 50,000 people annually, promote employment creating over 3,000 jobs during its construction and operational phases and conserve foreign exchange.
The initiative is also supported by the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to meet the African Union’s (AU) healthcare goals and objectives under the ‘Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want’. The initiative forms a key part of Afreximbank’s Health and Medical Tourism Programme (HMTPP) which comprises the Construction and Medical Tourism Relay Facility (CONMED) designed to promote the development of state-of-the-art medical infrastructure in Africa.
An elated President Muhammadu Buhari, while commenting on the development, expressed the hope that the medical centre would bring world class medical services to Nigerians and reduce the brain drain problem.
‘’The Government of Nigeria has partnered with Afreximbank to develop the African Medical Centre of Excellence in Abuja, which will provide world class medical services at par with the world’s most prestigious hospitals, thus restoring trust in the local health system. 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 and Africa’s healthcare and economic challenges simultaneously,” he said.
The AMCE, when completed, will offer a full spectrum of medical services (diagnostics, in-patient and out-patient) in oncology, hematology, cardiology and general healthcare services (including trauma and emergency services), as well as other essential services including academic, residential, hospitality and retail.
A significant focus of the AMCE is to perform innovative and ground-breaking research, development and educational programmes in partnership with leading global institutions such as the University of Wisconsin, King’s College Hospital and the Christie Hospital in Manchester in order to develop additional insights into diseases and treatment trends to improve the quality of care in Nigeria and the West African region.
In addition, it has the potential to establish the largest and most diverse bio-bank in West Africa, enabling it to attract global and Pan-African partnerships, making it a global point of reference and source of medical tourism in the region. The AMCE will offer residency, training and observership placement programmes that will afford the opportunity for physicians and students at local teaching to train under the expertise of its specialists and with the benefit of its patient volumes.
The partnership with King’s College Hospital will increase locally available clinical capabilities, provide education and training, relying on KCH’s two centuries of experience in providing specialist healthcare services, medicine, and medical research. Afreximbank will also set its sights on implementing a continent-wide plan of developing similar AMCEs with the aim of improving the quality of healthcare and health related research to cater for the African population.
President and Chairman of the Board of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah noted that the Medical Centre came at an appropriate time when the world was tackling the COVID 19 pandemic.
According to him, “The African Medical Centre for Excellence construction comes at an inflection point, as the continent rises from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With lessons learnt from the continent’s fight to curb the virus, the AMCE will be a key player for Africa in fighting the next pandemic. As a training, educational, medical and research facility, medical and research professionals from across the continent will be able to meet, exchange ideas and support Africa to implement its health agenda and provide quality healthcare, which would be accessible and affordable to all Africans. Partnering with King’s College Hospital, the Christie Hospital Manchester, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the African Union’s Africa CDC, the Centre of Excellence is expected to reduce the outflow of patients from the continent and ensure that capacity is built locally to provide medical specialties on the continent. Eventually, and through the successes and learnings of the Abuja AMCE, we envision and plan to replicate the project across other African countries with the aim of increasing medical know-how and access to all.”
Chairman of King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Sir Hugh Taylor, also expressed confidence that the Medical Centre would ensure the provision of specialist medicare for the benefit of Nigerians.
“At King’s, we have a long history of providing specialist healthcare locally, nationally and internationally. We are proud to be extending our clinical expertise in services such as haematology and cardiology to benefit the people of Nigeria, and Africa more generally,” he said .
Sir Taylor’s views were echoed graphically by Prof. Anil Dhawan, Executive Medical Director of King’s Commercial Services who added that the construction and operations of the Medical Centre would extend quality healthcare facilities globally.
“We are delighted to expand our overseas footprint of healthcare facilities in Nigeria, our first project in Africa, to provide the best care to the people of the continent. We envisage the replica of NHS patient care with safety and quality at the heart of it and assisting with rapid transfer of research and innovations in healthcare to the African continent,” he enthused.