Abuja — In an effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goal target, 2015, the Chinese government yesterday handed over a newly-built $12.5million Federal Staff Hospital to its Nigerian counterpart.
The 150-bed hospital, which covers 8,000 square metres, is a product of the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
Commissioning the hospital in Abuja, President Goodluck Jonathan said the facility would serve useful purposes in improving the health status of millions of Nigerians.
Jonathan, who was represented by Vice President, Namadi Sambo, noted: "The health sector is very critical to the attainment of United Nations Millennium Development Goals 2015 target.
"This administration is committed to the provision of quality and affordable health care for all Nigerians."
According to him, China has a very reliable ally in Nigeria not just in health sector but in other aspects of human lives.
The President said the relationship between China and Nigeria dated back to 1970 when formal diplomatic relations were established between both countries.
He said: "Since then, the relationship between the two countries has waxed strong with the signing of many cooperation agreements.
"China and Nigeria shares so much in common. There is therefore so much that we can gain from each other by strengthening and broadening our established partnership. China has become a significant destination for Nigeria's trade including crude oil.
"China has also increasingly become a major source of Nigeria's manufactured imports in the last decade. Nigeria-China relationship covers all fronts and there is a big role to further broaden and deepen it."
Calling for more private engagements in the nation's health sector, President Jonathan said the hospital with world-class facilities would help to reduce the number of patients that needed to be referred abroad for advanced medical treatment.
The conception of the hospital, according to Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Deng Boqing, dates back to 2006 when at the Beijing Summit of China-Africa Cooperation Forum, the Chinese government declared eight measures to help African countries raise their people's livelihood and further promote friendly relations between China and African countries.
One of the measures, he said, was that China would build 30 hospitals in Africa, adding that "Nigeria was chosen to be one of the recipient countries.
"With a total investment of over $12 million, the hospital has been built and completed within twenty-two months, and is now going to be handed over to the Nigerian government," Boqing said.
In his speech, Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, noted that the gesture had upgraded the hospital, which was formerly a colonial hospital with very few prospects for survival to its present 150-bed state.
According to him, over 50 surgeries are currently done weekly at the hospital, while an integrated programme on maternal and child health such as ANC, prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS and immunization have been introduced to meet the MDGs four, five and six.