THE decision of football living legend, Nwankwo Kanu, to build a N5 billion ($35m) 40-bed Cardiac Specialist Hospital in Nigeria, must be commended as a major contribution to the nation's health sector and such gestures must also be recommended to other wealthy Nigerians.
The hospital would be funded by the Kanu Heart Foundation (KHF), established 11 years ago as a token of the ace footballer's appreciation to God for helping him to recover from a heart condition that almost put paid to his flourishing football career. The KHF, which is also Kanu's vehicle for giving back to humanity part of his milk of human kindness, is strictly meant for the treatment of children, especially those from the poor and less privileged class.
The Foundation has, since inception, undertaken the sponsorship abroad, for treatment, of children diagnosed with heart-related diseases, including those requiring surgery. As at the end of last year, no fewer than 410 open heart surgeries had been sponsored by the Foundation. Whereas some of them were carried out in India, about 48 of the patients were operated upon in Sudan through an alliance Kanu personally brokered with the Sudan Cardiac Centre in London a few years back.
Today, in an effort to domesticate the treatment of patients by his Foundation, and thus reduce the cost of the treatment of heart conditions in the country, the Foundation has concluded plans to build the N5 billion Cardiac Specialist Hospital in Abuja, the nation's Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This move is, indeed, commendable, especially so, in an economy where over 70 per cent of the populace live below the poverty line. The project also has wider implications for the nation's economy, especially in the areas of wealth creation, employment generation, manpower development and prevention of capital flight.
In fact, Kanu, in Lagos recently, while hinting of the coming of the hospital, noted that these advantages were factors motivating him to establish the hospital. He told journalists that he was moved to expand the KHF because of the need to help save more under-privileged Africa children with cardiovascular ailments by offering cardiac surgical operations.
Lamenting the high rate of heart-related diseases in Africa and Nigeria in particular, Kanu noted that the hospital would be in a position to draw from the expertise of available highly skilled Africans operating in that branch of medicine worldwide.
The development would equally save the country huge capital flight as the heavy traffic to different parts of the world in search of modern medicare, especially in this specialised area would stop or at least be minimised.
When completed, the Cardiac Hospital is expected to boast of the best of the facilities in the centres of medical excellence in other parts of the world including heart lung machines, cardiac catheterization laboratory with six cardiothoracic intensive care units (ICU) and beds for post surgery patients among other facilities.
Already, the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, has granted approval to the KHF for the establishment of the world-class hospital. The land on which the hospital would be built in Abuja, about 5,000 square metres of land for present and future expansion, is said to have also been secured.
According to Kanu, a charity match, the proceeds of which would serve as the seed money for the hospital has already been scheduled for July and would involve international football stars like Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto'o, Emmanuel Adebayor and Michael Essien as well as some notable football and sports administrators.
Given that the amount of money required for this hospital is staggering, we challenge all Nigerians, governments at all levels, corporate bodies and people of goodwill across the world to rally round Kanu to ensure that the target is met and even exceeded so that this lofty dream would become reality and so that people, especially less privileged children would be positively impacted.
Editorial Daily Champion
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