Obinnia Abajue’s Opening Speech At The Healthcare Nigeria Conference 2018

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Good morning.

Thank you for making time out of your busy schedules to join us this morning.

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Healthcare Nigeria Conference 2018. As convener of the conference, Hygeia HMO is extremely proud of the confidence that you have reposed in us which is the basis of the partnership that has given life to this idea to establish an open and neutral platform where critical discussions that lead to demonstrable outcomes for the Nigerian health sector can happen. We are particularly glad for the presence of various industry participants – hospitals, pharmacies, diagnostics, HMOs, consultants, financiers, employers of labor and patients too!

The inaugural conference in 2017 was very well attended and some of those present today were at that conference. The focus then was on the patient and ensuring that quality of care is equivalent to what the patient actually needed. This year, our focus is on the provider(s) i.e. the supply side of the discussion. While this is no way to suggest that the issues on patient-centred care have been exhaustively discussed, we do need to see that there is a balance in terms of achieving some equilibrium between demand and supply side discussions.

Based on the feedback on the compactness of the conference last year, we took the bold step of making this a 2 day event to allow more room for conversation, networking and even exhibitions so that there is a deeper understanding of what is available in the market place today. Please go to the exhibition area behind us to meet some of the most innovative companies in healthcare. Some of the exhibitors are not playing o!

The theme of this year’s conference, Sustainable Healthcare – The Roadmap, was derived from our current day reality where it is no longer sufficient to have potential or hope or desire. We need a real and immediately executable action plan at the level of each operator or participant in the healthcare value chain. The existential challenge that we face as a people due to the prevalence of basic sanitation driven diseases combined with the explosion of the incidence of Non Communicable Diseases amidst an environment with high maternal and infant mortality means that without corporate and individual action, we will see a reduction rather than an improvement in the life expectancy of the average Nigerian. We should avoid this outcome.

That is one reason why this conference is focused on highlighting actions being taken by various participants in the health value chain to support the extension of healthcare access to more people in Nigeria at affordable rates. We can already see corporate action – Afrexim Bank has stepped into the fray with demonstrated commitment to financing the health sector and reducing medical tourism in Nigeria; SwissRe is also present and is focused on micro health insurance in Nigeria while Medical Credit Fund (a member of the Pharmaccess Foundation) has developed innovative financing solutions for expanding access to quality care and medicines across the country. These are just a few of the largest corporates taking bold and decisive actions towards sustainable healthcare in Nigeria.

Over the 2 days, we will be updated on the roles of the key players in the healthcare value chain and opportunities that exist to improve health outcomes and businesses in Nigeria today. The breakout sessions in the afternoon of Day 1 are expected to provide deep insight into areas of interest in the industry. We will hear of the progress made by Lagos State in the rollout of its State Health Insurance Scheme when the Honorable Commissioner for Health speaks on Day 2. We will also hear about sustainable structures to provide access to healthcare in specific areas – the approach adopted by Soulage Foundation to leverage existing industry participants in their quest to provide a better life for indigent children living with Sickle Cell Anaemia disorder is both innovative and worth considering. And of course, we will look at what is changing and available with technology that allows us to reach many more people at reasonable costs.

Finally, our culture and the prevailing practice of being dismissive towards mental health must also improve. This is why we have a session focused on the many dimensions of mental health tomorrow.

Ladies and gentlemen, I encourage you to pay attention to the discourse and participate as required and I trust that our speakers and panelists over the 2 days will help to enlighten all of us and stimulate us to action towards sustainable healthcare in Nigeria.

As is typical these days, please also share what you’re learning and who you’re meeting on social media. Use the hashtag #HealthcareNigeria

You are welcome.

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