Sokoto, emerging hub of medical tourism

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For the gigantic crowds and guests who were held spellbound as the multi-billion naira-capacity Sokoto State Advanced Diagnostics Center building was commissioned, a greater surprise we awaits when the 1,200-bed capacity Sokoto State University SOSUTH Teaching Hospital will be completed soon. .

The new advanced diagnostic center with state-of-the-art medical equipment, built at a cost of N824 billion and an additional N2.4 billion spent on equipment, includes an X-ray unit, a laboratory unit, outpatient clinics, a dental unit and an ENT unit. It will offer a variety of services, including medical investigations, radiological investigations, and laboratory investigations.

It also has extensive capability for MRI, CT, Fluoroscopy, Digital X-Ray, Mammography, Chemical Pathology, Histopathology, Microbiology and Hematology. It also has provisions for ECG, Echocardiography and Vascular Doppler, Gastrology, Endoscopy, Neurology and EEG. Medical consultants, doctors, scientists/laboratory technicians, nurses and other personnel necessary for the proper functioning of the center have been recruited.

For Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the idea for the center is the product of his regular consultations with the Sultan of Sokoto, which His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar corroborated, while explaining how the idea for the diagnostic center emerged .

Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar said: “A few years ago I referred to the Governor of Sokoto State on the need for us to have a center of excellence to address our many health issues. health in this part of the country, and the need for synergy between the governments of the states of Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara.

“The center will help people and stop long trips to foreign countries for medical diagnosis.

“For the hospital to help the poor and vulnerable who cannot afford the fees, I am offering a large basket run by reputable Nigerians, so that someone who has no money to bring their loved ones to the center could get quick attention without paying, because someone else had paid for him.

State Health Commissioner Dr Ali Inname said a staggering number of Nigerians travel abroad for medical treatment every month, with the bill estimated at over $1 billion a year. This is due to the non-availability of advanced healthcare technologies in our healthcare facilities.

“Every month, around five thousand Nigerians travel abroad for medical treatment. This represents expenditures totaling $1 billion per year. However, a recent update indicates that Nigerians spend $3 billion every year in India alone on medical tourism.

“While abroad they not only pay for medical care, they stay in hotels and buy meals in restaurants, in addition to other payments such as transportation and contingencies. In most cases, many have to go back to the foreign hospital for further checks. In sum, the huge population gives a boost not only to the medical institutions but also to the travel and hospitality industry in these countries. They help to build foreign economies and this has been going on for many years.

“This facility, which is world class and a milestone in the history of medical diagnostics in Nigeria, will reduce the suffering of patients who have to travel in search of reliable diagnostic services in countries such as India, UK , the United States, Saudi Arabia and Germany.

“There are 860 public and private health facilities in Sokoto State. For this number of healthcare facilities to provide effective services to a population of five million in the state, they need to adopt cutting-edge technologies used worldwide.

“A teaching hospital is also under construction, which means that the ancient city of Sokoto will become something of a medical center over the years. The diagnostic center will receive patients from Nigeria. nationals of the Republics of Benin and Niger.The combined effect of these, with a massive impact on the transport, hospitality and healthcare sectors, among others, will give an increase in internally generated revenue to Sokoto in a few years.

Governor Aminu Tambuwal recalls that the diagnostic center is another giant Sokoto project that was carefully prepared with barely a mention in the media, during its years of construction.

According to him, “The Sokoto State Government has designed, built and equipped the new Advanced Medical Diagnostic Center to provide high quality advanced medical diagnostic services available anywhere in the world.

“The overall goal here is to provide health services to our people and to make Sokoto a hub for medical tourism. The services provided by the center are designed to be affordable for the population.

He said that before long the hospital will be generating revenue not only for itself but also for Sokoto State.

Regarding support for vulnerable people who may need to access the hospital, Governor Tambuwal said, “we will establish a fund to which the government will contribute, members of the business community and well-meaning Nigerians can contribute. , to subsidize the services that will be rendered to the needy people of the centre.

For greater efficiency, the center will be managed by Healthfield Medical Services Ltd, through a public-private partnership model.

Regarding the teaching hospital nearing completion, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Muhammad Ali Inname, recognized the African Development Bank (AfDB) for its support to the state in ensuring inclusiveness in the Supply and Affordability of Medicines in Africa.

Dr Inname pointed out that this is due to the fact that 70% of the drugs used on the continent are imported from China.

The projects supervisor, architect Abdulhameed Yahuza Mainasara, explained that the state government has revised the contract for the teaching hospital by adding other projects which were not in the initial plan of the hospital.

Notwithstanding the additional projects, architect Abdulhameed Mainasara, assured that the thirty-month agreement signed with the state government to deliver the project is still sacrosanct.

“Specifically, a helipad space, where the air ambulance can land in an emergency, has been added to the project.

“The University Hospital, which has a capacity of 1,200 beds when completed, will also boast of different departments as well as Visiting Doctors Pavilion, Corpers Pavilion, Auditorium as well as Radiology.

“Besides the normal sleeping space, other facilities also include VIP and VVIP lodges which have all the qualities of a standard suite. It also includes accommodation for the CMD and other senior staff within the hospital premises.

For the CHU to be delivered as planned, according to the specifications and without compromise, no less than a thousand workers from different fields were employed to work on the site, daily.

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