SOLD – Rochas and the privatisation of Imo Hospitals

Something interesting is happening to the public hospitals in Imo;  the State Government appears to have concessioned  them out to a private firm. While one newspaper reports that that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed with a British company to manage the hospitals, others report that the beneficiary for the concession is a certain Dr. Ibrahim the Chief Executive of Lantech Solutions Ltd, a Kaduna based company and reputedly a good friend of Chief Rochas Okorocha, the Governor of Imo State. I have searched – but cannot find anything about this Dr Ibrahim! I have searched online, asked colleagues and others in the sector including reputable health maintenance organisations (HMO) in Nigeria. Nobody seems to know the good doctor who will be managing all public hospitals in Imo State!  If you know Dr Ibrahim – apparently based in Kaduna – pls tell us – we will be much obliged! Imo must be better Rochas promised us….we will wait and see.

Firstly – Ill confess that I am completely in favour of seeking innovative solutions to the tragedy that has befallen our health sector in Nigeria. Public hospitals in Imo State, across board have become derelict burial sites. The health sector workforce is demotivated, the infrastructure is dilapidated and the people have since lost fate in it. Maintaining status quo is in nobody’s best interest. So in principle – innovative approaches are indeed desirable in moving the sector forward. The idea of a public private partnership is not inherently a bad model. But – the challenge is the “HOW”….

One cannot help but wonder why this deal is shrouded in secrecy. Why was there no open and transparent bidding process organised for those interested. Why are the several HMOs in Nigeria not involved, or not given the option to bid? Who is this  Dr. Ibrahim and what is the pedigree of  Lantech Solutions in the health sec What is his relationship with the good Governor. What guarantees are in place for the people of Imo who fought so hard to get Rochas elected after the tragedy of the Ohakim era.

The Nigerian Medical Association has come out strongly in opposition to this move, but sadly they too have not offered any solutions to the state of affairs of the health sector in Imo. So good people – don’t keep quiet. Imo does not belong to Rochas, but to the people of Imo! You have a right to know why your hospitals are being concessioned out and to whom. Nothing should be done for you without you. Communication is an intrinsic part of leadership – right now Rochas is not in communication with us about his plans. Well, maybe now that he is governor – he thinks that he does not need to any more. Hopefully, he does not ignore the good people of Imo as Ohakim chose to do.

But meanwhile – what ever you do – do not fall sick in Imo!

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

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.

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