The Chief Medical Director, National Hospital, Abuja (NHA), Prof. Muhammad Raji, says the facility’s initial mandate of catering for women and children’s medical needs has been expanded to cater for the nation’s President.
Raji told journalists on Sunday in Abuja that the hospital from catering for women and children was expanded to cater for all the citizens of Nigeria whatever the race or age or gender.
“The mandate is to make it the apex hospital in the country, which can cater for the welfare needs of even the first citizen in the country.
“So the national hospital was poised to attend to such needs and it has done so for quite a number of years.” he said
He, however, said that as time went on there were some changes that had adversely affected the mandate that was given to the hospital.
Raji said that some of them brought about challenges, which includes funding and supervision.
“As a result of that, there has been some reduction in the ability of NHA to cater for that exact mandate.
“Some of the equipment that were there before, that was world class equipment, has over the years not been changed.
“Some have gone bad, no more working and 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 poised to give but this is what we are working on now to give.
“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.” he assured
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 institution 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 could, they may not be able to go round all the tertiary hospitals in the country.
“We are talking about over 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, 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 has over the years had support from some telecom companies while PENCOM has also built and equipped a certain segment of the hospital and also donated to the hospital.
“There are so many others which are so 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 coming in this administration, 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.
“Customs has assisted us with vehicles and 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 and our electronic medical records,” he added.
THE WHISTLER 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.
To also 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 for supervision.
The hospital expanded to a 400-bed facility and now renders specialist services in all areas of medicine.