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India helps Nigeria ramp up healthcare systems

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Accra: Oil-rich Nigeria, West Africa’s biggest nation, saw its citizens spend millions of dollars on medical treatment in India due to an inadequate health delivery sector, but this is set to change as the Indian government and private healthcare providers are turning to invest locally to benefit from this huge market.

An indication of the huge numbers of Nigerians who travelled to India is reflected in the number of visas that were issued over the years.

“In 2012, about 40 percent of all visas to India from Nigeria were for medical tourism and Nigerians spent about $260 million on medical expenses in India,” KPMG Africa chairman Oluseyi Bickersteth told.

Indian involvement in Nigeria’s healthcare delivery is gradually increasing after a lull in the 1970s when most of the Indian medical officers operating in the country left, Bickersteth said. Nigeria’s new interest has been also bolstered by the Indian government’s announcement last January to set up two specialist units for eye and cancer care.

Noting that last year, the United Nations Development Index ranked Nigeria 152 out of 187 countries in healthcare delivery, Bickersteth said: “This low ranking indicates not only the problems with infrastructure and healthcare facilities, which are poor, but also high infant mortality rates and relatively low life expectancy.”

He said current gaps in the Nigerian healthcare system, like low doctor-population ratio, inadequate infrastructure, low health insurance cover, absence of internationally recognized certifications and high brain drain have forced Nigerian patients to seek medical services abroad.

“In the last few years, India has become a destination of choice for large numbers of Nigerian patients owing to its low cost, quality of healthcare, expertise in complex surgeries and no waiting time,” Bickersteth said.

“Taking cue from the gaps in healthcare delivery in Nigeria, Indian healthcare players have started increasing their presence in Nigeria,” he said, adding: “India has a strong trade connection with Nigeria. More than 100 Indian companies are present in Nigeria, which have made significant investment in the country. India has also been a privileged partner in Nigeria’s healthcare sector.”

Bickersteth said, “India is a leading country to fulfill the medical needs of Nigeria, with Indian pharmaceutical companies playing a major role in the country’s health delivery. Among the companies that are working to bring about an improvement in the sector include Chi Pharmaceuticals and Cipla-Evans Pharmaceuticals, as well as several exporting companies that are not involved locally.”

In addition, he said, “there are also hospitals and diagnostic centres from India that are currently operating in Nigeria, including Mecure Diagnostic Centers and Vedic Hospitals (established in Nigeria in 2013 with support from India’s Manipal Health Enterprises), both in the commercial capital Lagos and Primus International Super Specialty Hospital in the capital, Abuja.”

Following the success of some of the Indian companies already in Nigeria, Bickersteth said, “other Indian players are planning to establish their footprint in Nigeria. This has been partly due to the efforts of the Nigerian ministry of tourism and the Indian High Commission which have organised healthcare events to strengthen the partnership in the healthcare sector between the two countries.”

“Few Indian hospital chains also provide training to Nigerian doctors on specialist medical procedures, thereby improving patient care in Nigeria. For example, around 100 doctors of Abuja University Teaching Hospital were recently trained by medical experts from the Apollo Hospitals in India,” Bickersteth added.

He said, “a number of healthcare organizations are also planning to establish hospitals in the country. For instance, First Rivers Hospital had teamed up with two Indian facilities – Ruby Hall Clinic and Trans-Medical Healthcare Limited – to provide collaborative medical services.”

In addition, a group of professionals in Anambra state are planning to partner with some Indian medical specialists to establish a 200-bedded world-class hospital in Awka city.

Bickersteth said, “under construction is a charitable eye hospital in Lagos in collaboration with India’s Indo Eye-Care Foundation and Rotary Club of Lagos-Palmgrove Estate with an investment of $2.7 million that will facilitate surgery of eye related ailments.”

“The Apollo Hospital group has opened telemedicine centres in Nigeria and recently it partnered with Airtel Nigeria to provide video consultation with doctors to Airtel Nigeria’s premier customers,” Bickersteth said, adding the Apollo group has partnered with Sanofi for diabetes management and is planning to replicate its Apollo Sugar Clinics concept in Nigeria.

He said, “Fortis Malar Hospital is planning to launch telemedicine centres in Nigeria,while the Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospital is also planning to establish multi-specialty facility in Nigeria in its efforts to expand its overseas market.”

(Francis Kokutse IANS)

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The Rafale Deal: Corporate Rivalry Impacting National Interest

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie's dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on 'India's strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal'.Pixabay

A recent European Union intelligence sharing exercise with India has revealed that Lockheed Martin, the US-headquartered company which manufactures the F-16 fighter jets, has been up to mischief mongering on the Rafale issue.

The Rafale jets, which India wants, is manufactured by the French aerospace company Dassault Aviation, a rival of Lockheed Martin.

That Lockheed Martin could be working in the shadows to sour the Rafale deal for India so that it could move in with its own deal was validated when Vivek Lall, Lockheed Martin’s high-profile head of strategy and India operations, said that the company was in the process of finalising the sale of 200 fighters to India.

During the UPA regime, the government had signed an MoU for 126 Rafale fighter jets to replenish a major shortcoming in air defence preparedness because the Indian Air Force did not have quality fighter jets. When the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, this deal was revised and an inter-government deal was struck to receive 36 fully-loaded Rafale jets. The controversy now raging in India is related to the pricing for the fighters negotiated by the NDA.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’. Pixabay

In December when the Rafale case came before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed that processes were generally followed over the procurement. He also noted that the controversy had been triggered by comments by former French President Francois Hollande over the selection of the offset partner and that mere comments could not form the basis for a probe.

However, this has not prevented the Rafale purchase controversy from becoming a high-octane political battle between the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Repeatedly over the past few months and more stridently now in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has led a no-holds barred attack on the government and the Prime Minister specifically on the issue. From the earlier public disinterest on the controversy, it is now now getting some traction — the Congress party believes this could be possible because it has relentlessly raised the matter at all public forums.

Bringing up the case of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was said to be part of the orhestrated plan to present the case of the American companies while also appearing nationalistic. In the government’s estimate, HAL’s record is abysmal and it cannot be given a big responsibility like building fighter jets — more so in the light of the safety record of MiG fighters purchased from Russia and made under licence from HAL.

The BJP-led government at the Centre believes — and it is certain it has evidence of this — that the Congress party is doing this as it has become a party to corporate rivalry between the US and French aerospace companies. For the record, Lockheed Martin is believed to have found a sympathetic ally in another US aerospace major, Boeing, which manufactures the F-18. Dassault has another rival in French manufacturer Airbus Industrie, which is associated with BAE for the manufacture of the Eurofighter. It is also angling for a fighter jet contract with India.

Rahul Gandhi’s attacks on the government over the Rafale issue started after his visit to the US in August 2017 when he met several defence lobbyists, CEOs of US defence companies and Pentagon officials.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’.

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Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Pixabay

The government’s efforts to trace the footprints of the dramatis personae at the forefront of the campaign to target the government over the Rafale deal has produced surprising results. It has found what it believes are eye-opening linkages between Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie — who filed a PIL in the Supreme Court accusing the Prime Minister of corruption in the deal — and arms dealers and defence manufacturers. At least in one case, the linkages show deep connections between members of Shourie’s family with aerospace companies, arms dealers and defence lobbies.

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie’s dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

Also Read: The Craft of Distilling Is Ancient, Different Story Behind Every Bottle

The government is also aware of the links between a top BJP leader’s son-in-law and a French manufacturer. The son-in-law is said to be advising Rahul Gandhi and is believed to be making government documents available to him for the campaign against Rafale.

Lockheed Martin’s alleged actions to work the political ecosystem to pull down the Rafale procurement deal also has a larger strategic context. Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.  (IANS)