Abuja — President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday inaugurated a 150-bed China-Aided Federal Staff Hospital at Jabi, Abuja, with a pledge to provide world-class health facilities to Nigerians.
Jonathan, who was represented by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, said the US$12.5 million hospital, which he called, Nigerian-Chinese National Hospital, would cater for the medical needs of not only public servants but other members of the public.
According to him, the adage 'Health is Wealth' underscores the importance of Health as a principal factor in productivity and wealth generation.
Jonathan said the provision of health care facilities to cater for the welfare of public servants was a cardinal policy of the Federal Government as "not much can be expected from a sick labour force, no matter how skilled."
He said the construction of the hospital which would serve "very useful purposes in improving the health status of millions of Nigerians, marks yet another milestone in Nigeria -- China relationship."
The president reiterated the commitment of the government to the provision of quality and affordable healthcare for all Nigerians and the improvement of the quality of life of the people.
"In the health sector, we have put in place a solid programme involving the Nigeria Private Health Sector Alliance and the National Food and Drugs Administration and Control to encourage the domestic production of essential medicines.
"The Ministries of Health and Communications Technology are also collaborating with other stakeholders to increase the use of technology in improving health services, in addition to the provision of other necessary health infrastructure across the country.
"Under the SURE-P programme, this administration is strengthening healthcare delivery in rural areas, through the deployment of human and material resources.
"We are also committed to saving the lives of women and children from preventable diseases through a sustained focus on the improvement of maternal mortality and child health."
Jonathan described China as a "very reliable ally" of Nigeria in her development quest for several decades, not just in the health sector but also in other areas of national life.
He noted that the relationship between the People's Republic of China and the Federal Republic of Nigeria dated back to February 10, 1970 when formal diplomatic relations was established.
He said the two countries had signed many cooperation agreements, covering different sectors including bilateral trade, investment promotion and protection, taxation, Consular Affairs, Strategic Partnership, Economic cooperation and tourism, among others. "China and Nigeria share so much in common.
There is therefore much that both countries can gain from each other by strengthening and broadening our established partnership."
According to him, China has become a significant destination for Nigeria's trade, including crude oil.
He further observed that China had also increasingly become a major source of Nigeria's manufactured imports in the last decade.
The president thanked the Chinese Government for the technical assistance it offered to Nigeria in several areas.
"This Hospital, as well as the training of health personnel, are typical examples in the health sector.
"Science and technology, communications, bilateral trade, development of infrastructure are other critical areas where China's cooperation with Nigeria are manifest.
"China's support to Nigeria in the areas of transportation infrastructure, especially for the improvement of the rail system and water supply, agriculture and education are also noteworthy.
"The commissioning of this 150-Bed National (Staff) Hospital, built at a total cost of US$12.5 million is another welcome development."
He said that government would continue to encourage the private sector and the development partners to invest in the establishment of world-class hospitals as well as treatment and diagnostic centres across the country.
President Jonathan commended the Federal Ministry of Health and the Management of the Federal Staff Hospital for not only ensuring the effective utilisation of the hospital's facilities but also initiating new projects within the hospital to complement the efforts of the Chinese Government.
He, however, enjoined the management of the hospital to ensure the maintenance of the hospital's premises, buildings and facilities.
In his remarks, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Deng Boqing, said the 150-bed hospital was part of agreement reached under the China-Africa Cooperation adopted in 2006.
He said the Chinese government would continue to support Nigeria in achieving its development plan and transformation agenda.
The Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, pledged that the facility would be maintained to serve its purpose.
He said that the ministry in complementing the effort of China, had built 12 flats to serve as staff quarters for the hospital's staff.
The contract for the 150-bed National Staff Hospital was signed on August 7, 2009, while actual work commenced on May 20, 2010 and by April 2012, the Hospital project had been completed and fully equipped with all necessary facilities. (NAN)