Because of lack of proper health delivery sector, the biggest country of West Africa, blessed with abundance of oil, Nigeria has seen its residents spend huge sums of money, millions of dollars, for medical treatments in India, But, this is now going to change as the Government of India along with private players in healthcare sector are coming forward to make investments to reap-in benefits from this vast market.
The huge number of people who are coming from Nigeria to India can clearly be seen from the number of visas that have been issued in the past years. Oluseyi Bickersteth, Chairman, Oluseyi Bickersteth said, “In 2012, about 40 percent of all visas to India from Nigeria were for medical tourism and Nigerians spent about $260 million on medical expenses in India.”
Although there is a stillness came in the decade of 1970 as most of the medical offices from India who were working in Nigeria had left but slowly the interest of Indi in the healthcare delivery system of Nigeria became better. He further added that as the government of India has made an accouterment in last January regarding their increasing interest. This has led to establishment of 2 new specialized unites for cancer care and eye.
Bickersteth informed that the United Nations Development Index had given Nigeria a rank of 152 out of a total of 187 in the field of healthcare delivery. “This low ranking indicates not only the problems with infrastructure and healthcare facilities, which are poor, but also high infant mortality rates and relatively low life expectancy.”
He further added that the main reason that citizens of Nigeria were forced to seek medical treatment in foreign country was because of a number of factors such as inadequate infrastructure, absence of internationally recognized certifications, doctor-population ratio, high brain drain and low health insurance cover. He added, “In the last few years, India has become a destination of choice for large numbers of Nigerian patients owing to its low cost, quality of healthcare, expertise in complex surgeries and no waiting time.” He further added, “Taking cue from the gaps in healthcare delivery in Nigeria, Indian healthcare players have started increasing their presence in Nigeria. India has a strong trade connection with Nigeria. More than 100 Indian companies are present in Nigeria, which have made significant investment in the country. India has also been a privileged partner in Nigeria’s healthcare sector.”
He said that India is one of the foremost countries who are fulfilling the medical requirements of Nigeria and this has been possible because of pharmaceutical companies in India are playing an important part in the health delivery sector of the country. Amongst the others, Cipla-Evans Pharmaceuticals and Chi Pharmaceuticals are the companies that are bringing-in betterment in this sector, along with are a number of export companies that are not working on a local basis.
Along with this, Bickersteth added that there are a few Indian hospitals and diagnostic centers who are operating in Nigerai in the present such as Mecure Diagnostic Centers and Vedic Hospitals, founded in 2013 with assistance from Manipal Health Enterprises of India. Both of these medical institutions are located in Lagos while is Primus International Super Specialty Hospital in Abuja, the capital city.
As these Indian companies are reaping-in huge benefits in Nigeria, new players from India are now making plans to establish their place too. All this has become possible because of the joint efforts of the Indian High Commission and the Nigerian ministry of tourism for organizing important healthcare events so that partnership between the healthcare sectors of the 2 countries would strengthen. “Few Indian hospital chains also provide training to Nigerian doctors on specialist medical procedures, thereby improving patient care in Nigeria. For example, around 100 doctors of Abuja University Teaching Hospital were recently trained by medical experts from the Apollo Hospitals in India,” added Bickersteth.
He informed that healthcare organization are now making plans of establish their hospitals in India. One such example is First Rivers Hospital who have collaborated with 2 facilities from India – Ruby Hall Clinic and Trans-Medical Healthcare Limited for offering collaborative medical services. Also some professionals from in Anambra are making plans to team-up with a number of medical specialist in India for an establishment of a world-class hospital with 200 beds in Awka.
A Charitable eye hospital is in the making in Lagos after a collaboration with the Rotary Club of Lagos-Palmgrove Estate and Indo Eye-Care Foundation from India after an investment of 2.7 million dollars. After it will become operational, there are going to be surgeries of eye-related ailments.
The well-known Apollo group of Hospitals is teeming with Sanofir for diabetic managements and there are plans to make a hospital in Nigeria on the lines of Apollo Sugar Clinics, Bickersteth said, “The Apollo Hospital group has opened telemedicine centres in Nigeria and recently it partnered with Airtel Nigeria to provide video consultation with doctors to Airtel Nigeria’s premier customers.” He later quipped that Fortis Malar Hospital also wishes to set-up telemedicine centers here while the Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospital too is making plans of founding multi-specialty facility in Nigeria to tap the foreign market.