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Japan to support Nigeria’s health sector with $18.2m — Minister

The Federal Government on Tuesday in Benin said that the Japanese Government has offered $18.2 million (about N40.6 billion) financial support to strengthen Nigeria’s health sector.

 The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba, made the disclosure during his visit to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH).

 He said his visit was to assess utilisation of the N49 billion intervention fund released by the Federal Government to 52 federal health institutions in the country.

 He said that the Japanese support would come in the form of equipment and capacity building for medical personnel.

 This support, according to the minister,  is made possible from President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the Japanese Prime Minister in 2019.

 “I just want to let you know that Irrua Specialist Hospital and the UBTH, both in Edo, are included among the seven centres, where this money will be spent. 

“We also work with a USAID and I signed those agreements where they also gave us 200 ventilators and I am aware that Irrua Specialist Hospital got three and the UBTH also got three from the 200 ventilators that we spread throughout the country,” he said.

 The minister asserted that one of the revelations of the COVID-19 was the vulnerability of the Nigerian health sector; hence the reason President Buhari graciously approved the N49 billion intervention fund for 52 federal medical centres and teaching Hospitals in the country.

 The fund, he explained, was meant to help build infrastructure in the sector to ensure resilience in the country’shealth system. 

Agba said that the funds were allocated for building molecular laboratories, provisions of a minimum of 10 bedded Intensive Care Unit (ICU), isolation centre equipment and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), among others, in the 52 health institutions. 

“What this meant is that each of the centres got about N950 million to be able to purchase those necessary equipment and the PPEs for their laboratories, the isolation centres and the ICUs,” said the minister.

 He expressed delight with the judicious way UBTH management expended its fund and the type of medical equipment bought and installed so far. 

“Yes, we had some initial losses, but we have learnt from those and I am sure from what I have seen here that the government has been able to assist you to build that capacity.

 “I think what is left for me is to thank you and your team for the good work that you are doing in terms of the services that you are providing for the country in the saving of lives and livelihoods.

 “We hope there wouldn’t be a third wave of the pandemic. However, if there were to be, we have now learnt a lot of lessons on how to handle the pandemic unlike the situation we had early last year when it started.

 “We are also now better equipped to do testing. In some of the hospitals I have gone to, they told me this is the first time they were seeing molecular laboratory.

 “They have heard of it, they have read of it, but they have never seen it. Some of them told me that their samples used to be sent out whether to Irrua or outside the country.

 “But it is gratifying to know that we now have this capacity in the country,” he said.

 He promised that the balance of 50 per cent would soon be released to the hospital to complete the phase of the intervention.

 Responding, Prof. Darlington Obaseki, UBTH Chief Medical Director, commended the minister for the visit, and the good work he was doing to make the people of Edo proud.

 He said that the intervention fund had helped to accelerate other projects and innovations that were  going on in the hospital.

 “We have said from day one that this hospital is being primed to be the leading destination for healthcare in the country.

 “Our vision is to be the leading provider of quality healthcare solution in West Africa. Because we are being conscious of your time, we would have shown you how we far we have gone about computerising the whole hospital for example and how the fund has also played a role in this.

 “Right now, all our clinics; the consultant clinic, general practice clinics, the ante-natal clinic, and the paediatric outpatient clinic are all computerised. If you come to the UBTH, our services are computerised end-to-end.

 “That is if you come to seek care from registration to payment, to nurses’ observation, to doctor consultation, to laboratory investigation, to pharmacy and drug dispensary are all computerised,” he said.

 The CMD disclosed that the hospital desired to upgrade its CT scan service to about 16 to 32 slides CT scan from the balance of 50 per cent intervention fund.

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