By Joan Odafe
The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa has assured Nigerians abroad, who plan to invest in the nation, of government’s support and enabling environment.
Dabiri-Erewa gave the assurance during a courtesy visit to Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre and Specialist Hospital in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the hospital, founded by Dr Modupe Elebute-Odunsi and her husband, Mr Bolaji Odunsi, was set up in Victoria Island, Lagos about six months ago.
Dabiri-Erewa said it was commendable that one of the best professionals in healthcare, left her comfort zone, took the risk to come back and set up a hospital in Nigeria.
She added that it was an inspiration to many Nigerians abroad who wanted to do likewise.
“I think this is most commendable; to come back home to give back. It is not just giving back but giving the best to your society.
“When we travel abroad, we didn’t get anything better than this and the beauty of this is that it is owned by all Nigerians,” she said.
Acknowledging the challenges the hospital may be experiencing in service delivery, Dabiri-Erewa pledged government’s support in helping the hospital achieve its goals.
“The role of government is to create an enabling environment and the good thing is that we have a diaspora policy that puts all the things we are saying to make life better for those who want to come back.
“This is about the fourth that we are acknowledging; we also have a Stroke Centre in Imo state, set up by a Nigerian in diaspora.
“People are coming from abroad but we don’t see these things, we rather see the negatives. We are here to celebrate positivity.
“Government will support every other Nigerian professional that wants to come back home,” she said.
Dr Modupe Elebute-Odunsi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre and Specialist Hospital said the desire to contribute to healthcare in Nigeria was not done light-heartedly.
Elebute-Odunsi, who is also a Consultant Haemato-Oncologist, who has about 30 years experience of working internationally, said it took a lot of planning to achieve.
She said her team did not just want to give back to the society but do it properly, by establishing a hospital that was of international standards.
“What we decided to do here was a complete one-stop shop. We see the issues when patients access care, it’s so disjointed.
“They come to see a doctor somewhere then go and see a specialist somewhere else; they do blood test in one place, scan somewhere else, there’s no cohesiveness.
“If they need a biopsy, chemotherapy, surgery, everything, it’s done here.
“Apart from a PET CT Scan, there is no reason why anybody should get on a plane to go and access care for cancer outside Nigeria,” she said.
Speaking further on the equipments, she said that Nigeria needed about 1,000 Linear Accelerator Machines to deliver radiotherapy for her population of cancer patients but currently have only five available.
Elebute-Odunsi commended the Chairman of NIDCOM for her support in ensuring that people in the diaspora who want to come home to contribute to the development of the nation are able to do so.
She urged banks to make financing accessible to people in the diaspora to make it possible for them to thrive.
Also, Mrs Kemi Ogunyemi, Director of Nursing at the hospital said that the aim of the hospital was to ensure that the journey of cancer care remained positive, regardless of what happens during the treatment.
Ogunyemi, who specialises in Oncology and Cancer Care said the period she worked as a Director of Outpatient Clinic in the United States of America had exposed her to quality and standard, which she pledged to maintain.
She urged NIDCOM to fast track the process so Nigerians in the diaspora, who are at the top of their fields and want to come back home to help with the development of the nation.
One of the patients, Mrs Ifeoma Dibia observed that accessing healthcare at the hospital was not different from what she receives when she goes abroad for treatment.
Dibia said the reasons she preferred receiving treatment at the hospital was because she receives the same quality without having to pay for flight tickets, accommodation and being disconnected from her family.
She urged NIDCOM to encourage more professionals to come back home to invest.
“We need them here, in all fields, especially health. There is no hospital you go to in New York you don’t have Nigerians. So let them come home,” she said. (NAN)