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

At the fourth yearly Africa Hospital Expansion Summit in Accra, Ghana, The Bridge Clinic Managing Director, Dr Richardson Ajayi, who gave a keynote speech, told participants the sector has shown significant growth in the past five years,  and that Foreign investors will find Nigeria’s healthcare sector attractive, listing 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, and  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, and He called for a different approach that would ensure that investments made the required developmental impact while delivering adequate returns to the investors, adding that “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 favorable 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, calling  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.

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