By Adeoluwa Ogunrinde
Africa’s quest to attain sustainable development in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs) has received a boost courtesy of a major investment in Nigeria’s healthcare sector through the launch of Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre (MRCC) and Specialist Hospital in Lagos.
MRCC, a private sector healthcare facility part financed by Polaris Bank and launched recently by Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos State and special guest of honour, is the first-of-kind, world-class, multipurpose-built and one-stop centre for the comprehensive treatment of specific cancers namely: breast, gynaecological, prostate, colorectal, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which are the most common cancers in Nigeria.
Part of the strategy for establishing the hospital in Nigeria is to halt the fast-entrenching medical tourism among Nigerians, many of who travel overseas for the treatment of life-threatening ailments due to dearth of good facilities in the country, and incurring substantial financial and emotional costs.
Averagely, 500 Nigerians are reported to travel abroad monthly to seek medical treatment while about $1.3 billion annually is lost in foreign exchange.
With a team of qualified specialists backed by local and international experiences and most modern state-of-the-art equipment, MRCC offers specialist services including urology, sickle cell research, and stem cell transplant, which are largely unavailable in Nigeria.
It boasts equipment such as an imaging centre with CT, mammogram, ultrasound, X-Ray machines, modern laboratory services, two operating theatres, an eight-bed chemotherapy suite, a radiotherapy centre with a linear accelerator and brachytherapy, 15 private en-suite rooms for in-patients, pharmacy and counselling service.
One of the impressive sustainable efforts by MRCC is the use of renewable energy. Whereas, most hospitals use more energy per square foot than office buildings of the same size, thereby increasing their negative impact on the environment around them.
The state-of-the-art radiotherapy machines at Marcelle Ruth have been subjected to rigorous E&S risk assessments and have shown to not affect the environment negatively.
These machines stand out in the industry as the latest technology, and they are remotely calibrated daily through their in-built artificial intelligence mechanism.
MRCC has also gone further to ensure that its radiotherapy rooms are built with bricks used to stop and/or eliminate radioactive emissions. They have also placed all their high emitting machines in a secured bunker, free of radiation leakages within the facility.
Another key sustainable resolve by the medical centre is the commitment to preventing waste upstream and managing it appropriately through diversion, recycling, and ensuring items end up in the appropriate waste stream, thereby preventing wastes from finding their way back to the environment.
Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre and Specialist Hospital serves as a fascinating testimonial of the benefit of the Godwin Emefiele-led Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Credit Support Intervention Fund for the health sector aimed to cushion the economic impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The initiative was developed to provide funding to indigenous pharmaceutical companies and other organizations in the healthcare value chain to enable them increase capacity to meet the increasing demand for healthcare arising from the pandemic. The intervention in great measure supports the attainment of Goal 3 of the SDGs which harps on good health and well-being.
The partnership between Polaris Bank which facilited access to part of the CBN credit and MRCC, underlines the Bank’s unwavering commitment to long-term social and environmental sustainability for Nigeria through ethical business practices that support the building of a prosperous society while contributing to a safe and viable environment.
Polaris Bank has been at the forefront of support for cancer treatment in Nigeria by working with its NGO partner C.O.PE. (Care Organisation and Public Enlightenment) Foundation, a breast cancer awareness network, to support over 30 indigent cancer patients for treatment over the years.
Polaris Bank has also provided free and comprehensive scanning opportunities for over 15,000 women, and donated cancer screening machines which have altogether helped enhance quality diagnosis and clinical practices amidst various initiatives across the country.
The bank has consistently demonstrated good understanding of the inextricable link between enhancing the quality of life of people, its business activities and the long term sustained growth of its business.
As such, the Bank is committed to sound and responsible business practices, including the incorporation of environmental and social risk considerations into its credit and investment appraisal processes to ensure that the business activities we finance have a net positive impact on society and our environment.
With the success of this intervention, there are also indications that other visionary entrepreneurs who are looking to facilitate investments of such magnitude in the healthcare sector would approach financial institutions like Polaris Bank to partner with them, seeing what the Bank has done with Marcelle Ruth.
Ogunrinde, a Journalist, Data & Research Analyst writes from Abeokuta