- The Governor commended Alhaji Abdul Samad Rabiu for the choice of Kwara to host the facility, announcing that the project will be named Abdul Samad Rabiu Medical Centre.
*Photo: Gov AbdulRazaq (middle) laying the foundation stone *
Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Friday laid the foundation for the state’s Cancer and Diagnostic Facility, a legacy health project which the Governor said comes with huge socioeconomic impacts for the state and the well-being of its people.
The facility is being funded with the N2.5billion donation by the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative (ASR Africa) which is owned by the BUA Group.
The Governor commended Alhaji Abdul Samad Rabiu for the choice of Kwara to host the facility, announcing that the project will be named Abdul Samad Rabiu Medical Centre.
“I commend the ASR Africa for the choice of Kwara to host this unique facility, which clearly bolsters our standing in the comity of states in Nigeria. By the time the facility is completed, it will become a first of its kind in north central and a major referral centre that would attract tens of thousands of people from across Nigeria and beyond every year,” he said at the foundation-laying ceremony in Ilorin, the state capital.
“Added to some of our major facilities like the modern intensive care unit, the dental and eye facilities, and the soon-to-commence teaching hospital, among others, Kwara is poised to become a go-to place for high-end medical treatment and research and training centre in Nigeria.”
The Governor promised to give ASR Africa and BUA Group every support required to ensure the project is completed on time.
“Cancer has become a major health issue in the 21st century. Globally, cancer is a major leading health problem with an estimated 10 million incidents and 6 million cancer deaths annually. According to the National Institute of Health, Nigeria records an estimated 72,000 cancer deaths annually, and 102,000 new cases are diagnosed from its population of 200 million people,” he added.
The event was attended by several dignitaries such as the House of Representatives member representing West/Asa Fed Constituency, Hon. Muktar Shagaya; Chairman House Committee on Health Hon Razaq Owolabi; cabinet members led by Secretary to the State Government Prince AbdulKadir Aliyu Mahe; Managing Director and CEO for AbdulSamad Rabiu (ASR), Africa Dr. Ubon Udoh; Chairman Civil Service Commission Hajia Habibat Yusuf; Executive Secretary Kwara State Hospital Management Board Dr. Abdulraheem Malik; Executive Secretary, Kwara state Health Insurance Agency Dr Olubunmi Jetawo-Winter; Executive Secretary State Primary Healthcare Development Agency Dr. Nusirat Elelu; and other government functionaries, among others.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Amina Ahmed El-Imam, in her remarks, said about 1 in 4 deaths in Nigeria is due to non-communicable diseases like cancers, commending AbdulRazaq for his foresight and how he succeeded in attracting the facility to the state.
El-Imam said the siting of the oncology centre in the state will save Nigeria from its annual loss of multimillion dollars to medical tourism that is chiefly in search for cancer-related treatments abroad.
“It is equally a commendable gesture that our Governor motivated the health workforce handsomely by implementing 100% CONMESS for doctors (elevating their salaries to the same scale a federal doctors and CONHESS for nurses),” she added.
She said government is similarly working out better welfare for other categories of health workers in the state.
Dr. Malik, in his welcome address, said the administration has invested huge funds in the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare delivery system, which he said is already manifesting good results in terms of creating access to quality healthcare services in the state.
“To neutralise the effect of the nationwide ‘Japa’ syndrome, His Excellency recently approved the now popular phrase “One-for-one” which means for every doctor, nurse or pharmacist that leaves our service we have a standing approval to replace,” he added.
Jetawo-Winter, for her part, said the healthcare project will place Kwara on the map as one of the few states that have the capacity to provide specialised care for cancers.
Elelu said it was commendable that the ASR foundation is partnering with Kwara State in “undertaking this giant stride to ameliorate the suffering of people living with cancer”.
CEO ASR Africa, Dr. Udoh, in his address, said Kwara scored the highest marks among the four states that were eligible for the Foundation’s tertiary health system support grant — ratings he said were based on quality access to healthcare.
“I must say, Your Excellency, that the selection process to get the first state that will benefit from this Tertiary Health System Grants was a very tedious one, and I am very proud to say that Kwara state came number one in the assessments out of the four states,” Udoh said.
“One of the criteria we used to get the beneficiaries was to look at the vision and drive of the Chief Executives of the states, and see what kind of project they are implementing, and people-centric visions of supporting people and helping them to improve the quality of their lives through quality healthcare. I must congratulate you sir for being an example of that.”
The medical centre will provide services such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, supportive imaging, and medical laboratory services in the management of cancer cases, according to a joint document on the project by the Kwara State Government and the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative (ASR Africa).