Thought Leadership

Behold our finest public hospital

We have previously written a blog titled: National Hospital Abuja: Unrealised Expectations. Pls read it to put the rest of the blog in perspective.

Our interest was aroused by several reports in the press this week….with titles similar to this:

Nigeria: National Hospital Rejects Health Ministry

Now read the comments of the Chief Medical Director, a former personal physician to President Obasanjo, Dr. Olusegun Ajuwon OON. To get to know him better read a recent interview…aptly titled “I Owe My Success to God”.

The news paper reports state…

….The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the National Hospital, Abuja, Dr. Segun Ajuwon has protested moves by the National Assembly to transfer the supervision of the hospital from the Presidency to the Federal Ministry of Health.

….Dr. Ajuwon decried the state of the 53 hospitals currently under the ministry, saying the National Hospital would not like to join them.

…Dr. Ajuwon said the hospital has the best cancer treatment centre in the country, adding that “the equipment has been down for two years now and it requires N45 million for repairs. The new one costs about $1.9 million USD which is about N200 million.”

In the last 9 years, we have had four boards; it makes nonsense of effective planning”, he stated.

…Dr. Ajuwon also told senators that the hospital’s MRI, which is first of its kind in the country, has also broken down. He estimated its repair cost at N70 million.

Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Smart Adeyemi (PDP, Kogi West) said they were at the hospital to ascertain state of facilities as, “We are particularly concerned that 48 years after independence we still refer ailments of important personalities abroad.”

…Senator Smart Adeyemi, Chairman of the Senate committee who led the team, said they were impressed with standards of the National Hospital.

Honestly…I have never come across such a self indictment of mismanagement in the public domain. It really is a shame that the National Hospital, that should serve as the primary tertiary care facility in the hospital cannot be managed to succeed both as a 1st class medical facility and a successfull finacially self sufficient entity.

My thesis…Our biggest problem in health and health care in Nigeria is not a deficiency of doctors, hospitals or clinical expertise….but simply a lack of strategic leadership …especially in the public sector.


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

By Chikwe Ihekweazu

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

3 replies on “Behold our finest public hospital”

Isn’t that the issue for most thinsg in Nigeria – concrete planning and vision? I am not going to beat down anyone in particular but will say until we have a plan that will proceed with or without the consent of everybody, Nigeria will continue to suffer. And said plan must keep efficiency and the interests of the average citizen at the top of the list, of course, that way whether detractors complain or not, the nation will know that the game plan will get us closer to a better system that benefits the nation as a whole and not just the rich.

Thanks for sharing this.

I read about this in the paper and I am not surprised.It is another example of the systemic malaise in our public healthcare delivery sector. What is the point arguing about whether the hospital will do bette under the presidency or MOH? Both are afflicted with the same malady and truly cannot outperform one another. As a neutral, I would be worried that the presidency has failed in managing 1 hospital compared to 53 for the FMOH. What we need is a plan. Our leaders from president to ministers, governors to local government chairmen all resume office without any plan. And that is a key reason for our failures. Having said this, the presidency has no business managing any hospital. Does the white house or 10 Downing street manage any hospitals? Even the royalty go to private hospitals in London!

Nigeria: FG Discloses Plan to Upgrade National Hospital

Leadership (Abuja)

20 June 2008
Posted to the web 20 June 2008

Ben Adoga

The Federal Govenment yesterday disclosed its plans to make the National Hospital, Abuja a world-class hospital rather than transfer its control from the presidency to the Federal Ministry of Health.

Speaking yesterday at the on-going public hearing in the Senate on a bill seeking to transfer the control of the hospital from the presidency to the Federal Ministry of Health, Amb. Babagana Kingibe, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) who was represented by Hakeem Baba Alhmed, said that the federal government had already put in place internal merchinery to make the National Hospital a world- class hospital that would serve the needs of Nigerians and possibly the rest of Africa.

“The president has said that the National Hospital requires a major review, we’ve already set up an internal review merchanism to identify all the issues that will be required so that within three years, it can actually operate as a world- class hospital that will serve Nigeria and possibly the rest of Africa.

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