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Nigeria has an $82 billion healthcare gap; MTN Foundation is trying to change that



According to the World Bank, Nigeria has an $82 billion healthcare gap. And public spending on healthcare falls far short. Nigeria’s public spending on healthcare amounts to just about 3% of its $440 billion GDP.

Given Nigeria’s financial projections— revenue and debt servicing— the future doesn’t offer much promise from a public finance perspective. But is there an alternative solution?

Can a multi-sectoral partnership model be the way out? Can a corporate social intervention model offer the much-needed solution?On the latter, MTN Nigeria, Nigeria’s foremost telecommunications company, makes a case. MTN, through the MTN Foundation, has committed to supporting Nigeria’s health sector through community-inclusive targeted financing. Through its ‘What We Can Do Together Project,’ the foundation has set aside over N1 billion to remodel 40 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in the country.

The ‘What We Can Do Together Project’ is a community-based initiative which allows members of the public to nominate projects to be implemented by MTN Foundation in different communities. Since its inception in September 2015, community-based projects have been successfully implemented in 586 communities across 530 Local Government Areas (LGAs), under four phases.

In this fifth phase of the project, in 2023, members of the public are to nominate PHCs in their communities, following which 40 of them will be selected for intervention.

Speaking on the initiative at a press conference on Monday in Lagos, Executive Secretary of MTN Foundation, Odunayo Sanya, noted that there were over 30,000 PHCs in Nigeria, with less than 25 percent of them functioning, a situation she said warranted the foundation’s intervention.

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The foundation thus plans to upgrade and supply medical equipment and consumables to 40 PHCs; install solar-powered boreholes in each PHC, as well as solar-powered hybrid solution in each PHC.

The effort notwithstanding, the MTN Foundation boss believes only broader private sector intervention can lead to a more far-reaching impact. She called on more corporate organisations to rise to the challenge. “As we are doing this to impact lives, we are creating a playbook for others to come in as well. We are remodeling 40 PHCs today, another organization can also come in by remodeling like 100 PHCs. In doing so, we will be making more impacts,” she stated.

Also speaking on the intervention, a director of MTN Foundation, Mr Dennis Okoro said the initiative was a significant investment in the lives of Nigerians, especially the underserved, adding that, “Development is not just about constructing roads, skyscrapers or building flyover bridges, it is also about impacting the lives of market women who sit on the streets, selling banana and groundnut. What we are doing here is building a human centered project. I am calling on other organisations to follow suit.

”MTN Foundation received commendation from a key player in the health sector as the MD/CEO, Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, Dr Tinuola Akinbolagbe, applauded it for advancing healthcare in Nigeria. Dr Akinbolagbe also challenged other organisations within the private sector to replicate the MTN playbook in the health sector.

Since inception, the MTN Foundation has invested over N25 billion in over 1,000 project sites spread across 3,000 communities in Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT, impacting over 31 million people, it stated on its website.


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