Nigeria’s healthcare mature for long-term investments, says expert

Nigeria’s healthcare mature for long-term investments, says expert


Foreign investors will find Nigeria’s healthcare sector attractive, The Bridge Clinic Managing Director, Dr Richardson Ajayi, has said.

He spoke at the fourth yearly Africa Hospital Expansion Summit in Accra, Ghana.

Ajayi, who gave a keynote speech, told participants the sector has shown significant growth in the past five years.

He listed the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), reduction in out-bound medical tourism because of the difficulties in obtaining foreign exchange and the increasing access to health insurance as key drivers of the sector.

He said the sector lacked the requisite systems to support short-term investments.

Ajayi said: “Investors expect a return on their investments, and most prefer the return sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, healthcare in our region is not mature enough for this type of investment strategy. Healthcare in our region is still at the nascent stage, and the systems, such as supporting government policies as well as the organised ecosystem, are not yet in place to create the platform for growth.”

He called for a different approach that would ensure that investments made the required developmental impact while delivering adequate returns to the investors.

Ajayi added: “Healthcare investments have to be considered from a developmental and long-term perspective. Investments with a focus on immediate earnings, such as earnings before interests, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) may institute a profit-driven culture which runs in the face of providing care and the right balance must be struck. A more favourable structure will be for investors to look into making equity investments with a focus on long-term growth rather than a quick exit.”

Ajayi highlighted the challenges hindering investments in health care to include the predominance of sole proprietorship, patients’poor medical decisions that come with a dwindling disposable income, poor customer service, and inadequate skills.

He called on the investors to be aware of these issues, saying they actually create the  opportunities in the sector.

He also called on the government to provide the enabling environment that would facilitate investment in the sector.

In his words: “There is a need to influence government policies to develop a more protectionist attitude to healthcare investments with effective regulation, consumer protection and promoting the climate for effective litigation of healthcare facilities that are not providing the right level of care.”

Ajayi said effective regulation was necessary for investments as it guaranteed patient protection and a level-playing field for service providers by ensuring that only such were allowed to compete in the market.

He informed the participants that it was difficult to run a medical lab business in Europe, North America and South Africa without implementing some quality management systems, such as ISO 15189, to ensure that the results from the lab were accurate.

According to him, “it costs more to run quality assured than non-quality assured tests but the non-quality player will offer his services at a lower cost and, therefore, have a market advantage over the quality-focused provider.”

Dignitaries at the event include the Ghanaian Minister of Health, Hon Alexander Segbefia, who gave the opening address.

Source : Thenationonline