The State House Permanent Secretary, Jalal Arabi, says the State House Medical Centre (SHMC), will be commercialised to augment government allocation.
Arabi disclosed this on Wednesday in a statement by Mr Attah Esa, the Deputy Director, Information in the State House, Abuja.
The Permanent Secretary was reacting to a recent media report on the state of the Medical Centre.
This is coming after reports that patients at the State House Medical Centre were groaning over lack of drugs and equipment at the facility.
The clinic is meant to serve Nigeria’s president, vice president and their families as well as employees of the presidency and other privileged individuals.
Zahra, President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter, had reportedly lashed out on her Instagram account at the situation in the clinic despite huge amounts of money provided for it.
She wrote: “More than N3billion budgeted for the State House clinic and workers there don’t have the equipment to work with? Why?
“Where is the money going to? Medication only stocked once since the beginning of the year? Why? State House Permanent Secretary please answer.
“Why isn’t there simple Paracetamol, gloves, syringes… Why do patients/staff have to buy what they need in the state house clinic?”
In an apparent response, the Permanent Secretary denied that funds allocated to the clinic were being diverted.
Arabi said the SHMC will be repositioned to offer qualitative and efficient services.
The statement read: “Reacting to a recent media report on the state of the Medical Centre, the Permanent Secretary said the management will among other things seek the commercialisation of the Centre to boost its revenue and augment the appropriation it receives from the government in the quest for a better qualitative service.”
“The Centre is the only health centre in Abuja where patients are not required to pay any dime before consultation.
“In other government hospitals in Abuja, patients are required to pay for consultation, treatment, laboratory tests and others but that has not been the case with the State House Medical Centre.
“The Centre offers free services, nobody pays a kobo for hospital card, consultations or prescriptions and this has taken a toll on the subvention the Centre receives from the government.
“We have some of the best equipment in the country. For instance, to maintain the MRI and other scan machines, we spend close to N2 million monthly. Yet we do not charge a dime for those who require MRI scans in the clinic.”
“We have already created a NHIS desk at the clinic where patients will be required to authentic their profile. If their HMOs are registered in other hospitals they will be required to transfer to the Centre.
“This is another way through which we can boost revenue generation at the hospital and this has started yielding results because the stark reality is there is no free lunch anywhere,” he said.
‘‘I know people will insinuate and give all sorts of reasons because they don’t ask but it will be foolhardy and madness for anybody in his senses to defraud a medical centre of a kobo and toying with people’s lives.
“No sane person will do that, so the truth of the matter is the hospital is being run on subvention and appropriation; if it comes we pile the drugs; but the truth is the drugs are always overwhelmed by the number of people who use the Centre, because it is not controlled.”