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April 21, 2024
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National Hospital’s mandate expanded to cover President’s medical needs – CMD

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By Folasade Akpan

The Chief Medical Director, National Hospital, Abuja (NHA), Prof. Muhammad Raji, says the facility’s initial mandate of taking care of women and children’s medical needs has been expanded to include the nation’s President.

Raji told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja that the hospital now caters for all the citizens of Nigeria irrespective of race, age, or gender.

“The facility is now the apex hospital in the country; it caters for the welfare needs of even the first citizen in the country.

“So, we are poised to attend to such needs, and we have been doing that for quite a number of years.”

He, however, said that there had been changes that had adversely affected the mandate that was given to the hospital.

Raji said that some of them brought about challenges which included funding and supervision.

“As a result of these challenges, there has been some reduction in the ability of NHA to meet that exact mandate.

“Some of the equipment that was there before, that were world class equipment, has, over the years, not been changed.

“Some have gone bad and no more work. Some do work, but then I would say they are limping. So, as a result, it is not able to now efficiently give that primary mandate that it has been mandated to give. But this is what we are working on.

“The current leadership of the Ministry of Health is on top of their game, trying to set things back on track for NHA and other hospitals.

“In extension, the management of NHA is also working assiduously towards that to see that our previous mandate is really achieved.”

With regards to the funding needs of NHA, he said that the hospital, being a part of the society, also feels and is subjected to what other government institutions face.

According to him, lack of funding is something that has affected the whole facets of the Nigerian economy and the government over the years.

“I wouldn’t blame any particular administration because the economic hardship is something that all administrations have been working hard towards resolving, but the dwindling economy has affected NHA adversely.

“Previously, when NHA was first created, it happened to be under the presidency and bureaucracy was less, sources of funding and the volume of funding was much more, but as time went on, NHA was moved under some other segments of government.

“However, even those, like the ministry, are also not finding it funny in terms of funding.

“So, for them to even be able to fund hospitals through budgetary means or interventions, though they have tried as much as they can, they may not be able to go round all the tertiary hospitals in the country.

“We are talking about more than 70 tertiary institutions that are handled by the Federal Ministry of Health.

“So, however hard they try, which they are trying actually, they may not really go through each hospital as much as that hospital needs, so that’s how it has affected us.”

The CMD, however, said that to ameliorate the situation, some interventions had come through some organisations either through philanthropic gestures or Public Private Partnership (PPP).

He said that NHA had, over the years, gotten support from MTN and Airtel, while PENCOM has also built and equipped a certain segment of the hospital and donated other items to the hospital.

“There are so many others too numerous to mention. The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has also contributed, and the Global Fund is also trying to do something.

“We have discovered that funding outside the statutory government budgetary provisions and PPP arrangements are also a way to go.

“So, since our arrival, we have really been going to various sister organisations, discussing, and interfacing with them, telling them our issues, seeing how we can collaborate and a number of them are coming on board.

“The Nigeria Customs Service has assisted us with vehicles. We are still trying to interact with a number of others now and we will keep doing that until we get what we want.

“Also, some organisations have approached us with regards to PPP arrangements, so in the next couple of months, we will see what this would yield.

“Already some PPP arrangements are working in our radiology section and our electronic medical records,” he added.

NAN reports that NHA was established by Act 36 of 1999, as a 200 bed National Hospital for Women and Children (NHWC), under the Presidency.

It was originally designed to cater for the needs of women and children in Nigeria and the West African sub-region, to reduce morbidity and mortality rate.

It was also expected to carry out extensive research into the peculiar causes of women and children-related diseases in Africa.

However, in 2000, the name was changed to National Hospital with a mandate to cater for all and in 2011, it was transferred from the Presidency to the Federal Ministry of Health.

The hospital has expanded to a 400-bed facility and now renders specialist services in all areas of medicine. (NAN)

Edited by Ifeyinwa Omowole

Philip Daniel Yatai

Principal Correspondent, NAN Abuja
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