By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has conducted the formal breaking ground for the construction of the African Medical Centre of Excellence (AMCE) on Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria.
The Centre aimed to provide world class healthcare across the continent in long-term partnership with King’s College Hospital, London (KCH), the official clinical partner for the AMCE.
Also, commissioning of the Centre is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2024.
The AMCE will offer a full spectrum of medical services (diagnostics, in-patient and out-patient) in oncology, hematology, cardiology and general healthcare services (including trauma and emergency services), as well as other essential services including academic, residential, hospitality and retail.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who commissioned the project virtually, said,
“The rising non communicable disease (NCD) burden in Africa is well established and undeniable. Coupled with inadequate medical infrastructure on the continent, it makes for a lethal combination that threatens the future of our people.”
The problem according to him, is further exacerbated by the significant brain drain experienced by the continent, “with our best brightest in the medical profession being attracted to career opportunities abroad resulting in a significant gap between the required treatments for NCDs and the available treatments.
“The Government of Nigeria has partnered with Afreximbank to develop the African Medical Centre of Excellence in Abuja, which will provide world class medical services at par with the world’s most prestigious hospitals, thus restoring trust in the local health system. The success of the AMCE will pave the way for future investments and partnerships in the sector while raising the local standard of healthcare and providing a blueprint for quality of services required to address Nigeria and Africa’s healthcare and economic challenges simultaneously.”
He said the initiative is supported by the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to meet the African Union’s (AU) healthcare goals and objectives under the “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want”.
The initiative forms a key part of Afreximbank’s Health and Medical Tourism Program (HMTPP) which comprises the Construction and Medical Tourism Relay Facility (CONMED) designed to promote the development of state-of-the-art medical infrastructure in Africa.
Also speaking, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Afreximbank, said,
“The African Medical Centre for Excellence construction comes at an inflection point, as the continent rises from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With lessons learnt from the continent’s fight to curb the virus, the AMCE will be a key player for Africa in fighting the next pandemic. As a training, educational, medical and research facility, medical and research professionals from across the continent will be able to meet, exchange ideas and support Africa to implement its health agenda and provide quality healthcare, which would be accessible and affordable to all Africans. Partnering with King’s College Hospital, the Christie Hospital Manchester, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the African Union’s Africa CDC, the Centre of Excellence is expected to reduce the outflow of patients from the continent and ensures that capacity is built locally to provide medical specialties on the continent. Eventually, and through the successes and learnings of the Abuja AMCE, we envision and plan to replicate the project across other African countries with the aim of increasing medical know-how and access to all.”
Sir Hugh Taylor, Chairman of King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“At King’s we have a long history of providing specialist healthcare locally, nationally and internationally. We are proud to be extending our clinical expertise in services such as haematology and cardiology to benefit the people of Nigeria, and Africa more generally.”
On his part, Prof. Anil Dhawan, Executive Medical Director of King’s Commercial Services said:
“We are delighted to expand our overseas footprint of healthcare facilities in Nigeria, our first project in Africa, to provide the best care to the people of the continent. We envisage the replica of NHS patient care with safety and quality at the heart of it and assisting with rapid transfer of research and innovations in healthcare to the African continent.”
Meanwhile, a significant focus of the AMCE is to perform innovative and groundbreaking research, development and educational programs in partnership with leading global institutions such as the University of Wisconsin, King’s College Hospital and the Christie Hospital in Manchester in order to develop additional insights into diseases and treatment trends to improve the quality of care in Nigeria and the West African region.
In addition, it has the potential to establish the largest and most diverse biobank in West Africa, enabling it to attract global and Pan-African partnerships, making it a global point of reference and source of medical tourism in the region.
The AMCE will offer residency, training and observership placement programmes that will afford the opportunity for physicians and students at local teaching to train under the expertise of its specialists and with the benefit of its patient volumes.
The partnership with King’s College Hospital will increase locally available clinical capabilities, provide education and training, relying on KCH’s two centuries of experience in providing specialist healthcare services, medicine, and medical research. Afreximbank will also set its sights on implementing a continent-wide plan of developing similar AMCEs with the aim of improving the quality of healthcare and health related research to cater for the African population.
The Abuja AMCE is expected to enhance service exports providing healthcare to over 50,000 people annually, promote employment creating over 3,000 jobs during its construction and operational phases and conserve foreign exchange. Designed under Afreximbank’s 5th Strategic Plan, “IMPACT 2021”, the initiative supports and promotes the diversification of Africa’s exports and the development of world class health facilities on the continent.