Dear Governor Udom Emmanuel,
kwa Ibom is blessed with an equipped health system. Our hospitals, particularly within the public health system have witnessed an upgrade within your administration. Currently, with over 48 hospitals and a quaternary institution being Ibom Multi-specialist Hospital, Akwa Ibom is well-positioned and prepared to expand the reach of our health services. Your Excellency, your effort to reposition and improve the healthcare sector has seen Akwa Ibom become a foremost health care centre of excellence in Nigeria but we cannot stop. There is a need to deepen our investments in healthcare by aggressively marketing our healthcare credentials regionally, nationally, and globally.
Health is wealth and with our location and facilities, we need to harness our resources to increase the income of the indigenes and the state at large. Marketing our healthcare sector entails tapping into the regional, national, and international markets. Regionally, amongst states in the Niger Delta region, our hospitals are the best in terms of facilities. We can market our health services to regional states to attract the necessary patient inflow. In addition, success in capturing the regional market will position Akwa Ibom as a hub for medical care and by extension, attract individuals and patients from other states.
Our strategic location facing the Atlantic Ocean may be an avenue for us to expand into neighboring countries like Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome, and Principe even extending to East African countries like Kenya and Uganda. These countries provide a huge untapped market to grow our healthcare industry. In fact, the ease of having a vibrant medical tourism industry cannot be understated as the presence of the Victor Attah International Airport provides a convenient port of entry into the state. Imagine a monthly inflow of 10,000 medical tourists into the state, the economic benefits are enormous. Increased real estate and healthcare investments, employment opportunities for our youths, and increased revenue from taxes in the state are a few of the benefits that may accrue from marketing our health sector. This is only achievable if we are deliberate and active in deepening our healthcare sector. Examples of countries that persistently promote their healthcare industry include India, Israel, and Turkey. India gains enormously from the Nigerian market and I believe we have all that is needed to heighten the status quo.
Dr. Edwin Okon Jr. MD, MRCS [Edinburgh]