How NNPC/Shell contributes to Nigeria’s health sector

Apart from exploring and producing oil and gas Shell companies in Nigeria – Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo) and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and their senior partner, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, have been undertaking key activities to ensure the wellbeing of Nigerians. In this report Olamilekan FAWAZ looks at critical interventions of the oil giant in the health sector and the need for other firms to follow suit.

Corporate social responsibility is considered very important by corporate organisations especially in the oil and gas industry. Besides their core competences which is exploring, producing and processing hydrocarbons, giving back to the society where they operate has become part of formal and informal aspects of their operations. This responsibility, sometimes, goes beyond their host communities to national or humanitarian issues such as finding accessible solutions to the increasing cases of cancer, preventions of diseases at IDP camps and training of medical personnel, among others. Such interventions have not only helped the not-so-rich Nigerians to access quality healthcare but substantially reduced export of the much needed foreign exchange through medical tourism.
For instance, SNEPCO recognises the value of a healthy nation and has developed a targeted approach to improve access to health and strengthen healthcare system in Nigeria. Over the last few years, SNEPCo has demonstrated its commitment by investing in shared value community care and sustainable health initiatives including medical emergency, centre of excellence and strengthening health facilities.
Only recently, NNPC/SNEPCo partnership installed a new cutting-edge cancer treatment machine at the National Hospital Abuja, which according to the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Jaf Momoh, will reduce patients’ treatment waiting time from 16 minutes to two minutes.
The cancer machine called ‘Elekta Synergy LINAC’ said to offer a unique radiation therapy technique that accurately shapes the radiation dose to the tumour with very little or no adverse effect on the surrounding organs, was gladly inaugurated by Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo through the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Alhaji Abdullahi Mashi.
The project aims at establishing a sustainable Centre of Excellence in Cancer Care in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health and National Hospital Abuja. It targets early identification and treatment of cancer with a view to improving access to affordable quality treatment for the average Nigerian.

Historically, Nigeria has six government designated centres of oncology and only one out of its nine radiotherapy centres are fully functional (UCH Ibadan) despite the existence of another (Abuja) requiring upgrade for full functionality. According to World health organization, cancer remains a leading public health issue affecting 1 in 20 Nigerians (WHO 2002). In 2017, SNEPCo partnered with the Federal Ministry of Health to improve the capacity of the National Hospital Abuja to provide effective and efficient health services in the prevention and treatment of cancer as part of its corporate social investment strategy. The mantra for the centre is “investment to reach- the right people; right equipment/infrastructure; right skills and right processes.”
In 2015, SPDC joint venture trained 300 midwives to support government’s effort in getting more skilled health workers to rural communities in six states of the Niger Delta region. The initiative was carried out in collaboration with the governments of the beneficiary states – Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo, Abia and Akwa Ibom.
Also, SPDC had last month delivered the Oloibiri Health Programme (OHP), an integrated health project for Oloibiri and adjoining communities in Ogbia Local Government area of Bayelsa State. The project includes the remodeling and equipment of General Hospital in Kolo. According to the Managing Director of SPDC and Country Chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor, the OHP is part of the three critical programmes implemented by Shell in commemoration of Nigeria’s centenary celebrations held in 2014. Besides the remodelled General Hospital, Kolo, the first phase projects of OHP that have been inaugurated are – a water treatment plant; medical laboratory equipment at the College of Health Technology, Otuogidi; and a dental chair at the Demonstration Clinic, Otuogidi. The second phase includes the Oloibiri Health Campus at Oloibiri Town, comprising the Oloibiri Health-for-Life Centre, Ward Health Centre, and a Knowledge Management and Research Centre. Other components of the second phase are the 0.4km Oloibiri Access Road to the Health-for-life Centre and the establishment of the Oloibiri Health Foundation to drive the overall sustainability of all the projects.
Okunbor noted that the third phase would be the establishment of the Ogbia Health Insurance Scheme to be modelled after the successful pilot health insurance scheme catalyzed by the SPDC joint venture in partnership with Rivers State Government at the Obio Cottage Hospital in Port Harcourt. Phases 2 and 3 are planned for completion by the end of 2019, he added.
In 2016, SNEPCo led a multi-stakeholder framing workshop of government, academia and health development bodies to identify gaps in the healthcare system and define development opportunities to address the gaps. This workshop culminated to become SNEPCo’s health priorities for intervention with five signature health intervention projects: Lagos Medical Emergency Response Improvement Programme (Lagos MERIP), Health System Strengthening project at Ogijo Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) in Ogun State, Integrated Humanitarian Assistance Project (IHAP) for internally displaced persons in Dikwa, Borno State, Centre for Cancer Care project at the National Hospital Abuja, Community care programmes tagged “Health in Motion” across Nigeria.
With the investment in health, SNEPCo aims to improve access to quality health in rural and semi-urban locations by supporting the provision of integrated services; reducing out-of-pocket expenses for health care and up-skilling the capacity of health care providers, delivering excellent initiatives to bridge the gaps and reduce mortality incidents around cancer care in the country, supporting the establishment of an efficient, effective and sustainable medical emergency response for health. These objectives are achieved through the implementation of strategic programmes.

In the Ogijo PHC System Strengthening Project, SNEPCo partnered with Ogun State Government to improve access to health care and quality health services using the maternal and child health for the various communities served by Ogijo PHC. This piloted system strengthening project was an offshoot from the “ARAYA” project which covered 6 PHCs) in the state. The project led to the construction of a model comprehensive PHC for Ogijo community; donation of medical equipment/ furnishing of the PHC; capacity building for health workers, improvement in drug revolving scheme and medical emergency care. The establishment of a sustainble community-based health insurance prgramme is some of the long-term plans for Ogijo
For the Integrated Humanitarian Assistance Project (IHAP) for internally displaced persons (IDP), it was In response to this humanitarian crisis. SNEPCo in partnership with Family Health International (FHI 360) – a global relief agency providing humanitarian assistance to IDPs in North-East Nigeria and the Government of Borno State, co-designed a two-year humanitarian relief programme aimed at providing IDPs in newly liberated areas in Dikwa Local Government Area of Borno State with healthcare, food, water, sanitation, livelihood support, education and shelter materials. In addition to this, the programme was also designed to improve the wellbeing of vulnerable groups through the provision of PHC services; psychosocial support; integrated gender-based violence support and resilience training.
Since 2014, the North eastern Nigeria has experienced several spikes in conflict due to intensified activity by Boko Haram, which coupled with counter-insurgency efforts by the Nigerian military, led to a severe humanitarian crisis and significant displacement. Dikwa a newly liberated LGA in Bornu State experienced high influx of internally displaced persons with millions in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
Through IHAP initiative, SNEPCo has touched lives and redefine hope to the people in Dikwa. A fully functional PHC in Dikwa was upgraded and equipped which hitherto was absent in the LGA. More than 50,000 in Dikwa benefited from a broad range of activities that cut across health, security, water, sanitation, hygiene and nutrition services. Over 44,960 persons have benefitted from services at the SNEPCo-supported PHC in Dikwa, with over 826 children delivered.
In addition to this, 22,527 people in the community have been educated on gender-based violence (GBV), leading to reduction in discrimination of GBV victims and improved assimilation of victims back into the society. 618 girls/women also received GBV support, with111 provided dignity kits, among others.
For the Lagos Medical Emergency Response Improvement Programme (MERIP), in view of the fact that medical emergencies can be life threatening, timely and effective Medical Emergency Response (MER) saves lives reduces injuries and disabilities and can improve the prognosis of rehabilitation. MER is a major gap in health care delivery in Nigeria; however, Lagos State desires to not only bridge the gaps but to excel in this sector. In the last 5 years SNEPCo has been working collaboratively with the Lagos State Government to improve the quality of medical emergency response. In response to the weak system, its initial LASAMBUS project has transited to Lagos Medical Emergency Response Improvement Programme (MERIP). It aims to strengthen medical emergency response system for Lagos State in partnership with all stakeholders through the establishment of safety, effectiveness, efficiency, time bound and equity model.
Lagos MERIP has produced a DVD in English and local dialect to provide guidance on how to act in an emergency for public awareness, trained 60 medical staff in First Aid skills, mentoring and supervision of LASAMBUS staff since 2015, procured a vehicle and two tricycle ambulances, provided resilience training to General Hospital, Odan to improve customer satisfaction and staff attitude. SNEPCo’s aspiration is to make Lagos better equipped to manage emergencies and reduce the mortalities associated with poor response time and mismanagement of medical emergencies.
On the Community Care Programme (CCP), in 2016, SNEPCo launched its community care programme. The objective of the programme is to provide quality free health care to people in far-flung and under-served communities who will otherwise have had difficulty affording /accessing it. Most recently, the programme extended its services to include cancer screening for women (breast, cervical) and for men (prostate). A total of 117 men have been screened for prostate cancer; 1,602 women screened for breast and 1,572 women for cervical cancer in 2017. 34 had breast lumps, 13 were positive to VIA; 7 had cryotheraphy treatment immediately while others were referred. This has provided some of the country’s least financially buoyant population with opportunities for early diagnosis and treatment. The community care programme is also able to link patients diagnosed in the field to referral facilities for further treatment/follow-ups. Since inception, the community care programme has been implemented in four communities Lagos (Lagos Island, Agege and Ojota) and Abuja (Gida Mangoro) reaching more than 13,000 people, embedding health care culture at the grassroots.
SNEPCo currently supports two static health facilities in Nigeria- Iyi-Enu Mission Hospital in Anambra State and Ogijo Health Centre in Ogun State. In 2014, SNEPCo invested N300 million to upgrade and provide equipment to institute a kidney dialysis and breast screening centre at Iyi-Enu Mission Hospital. The choice of Iyi-Enu was born out of the hospital’s record as one of the oldest hospitals in the South-East after its establishment in 1907 and its large patient pool and the commitment of the management in rendering health care services to the people. Today, the Iyi-Enu kidney dialysis and breast screening centre stands tall, has screened over 879 since 2016 and capable of managing medical emergencies.

In 2018, SNEPCo invested millions of naira to rebuild and rehabilitate the Ogijo primary healthcare centre. The rehabilitation involves the renovation of the infrastructure as well as provision of equipment, installation, training of medical personnel and provision of medical consumables.
On health insurance, health insurance in Nigeria is relatively expensive when compared to the earning power of the average Nigerian and the calibre of jobs that provide health insurance to their employees. At SNEPCo, we collaborate with the government, the community and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) to bring community health insurance to the people. It’s usually a pro-poor programme which improves access to affordable quality to the people at affordable annual premium. In 2016, SNEPCo launched its first Health Insurance Programme at Iyi-Enu Mission Hospital. Today, it covers 410 individuals in Ogidi community who can access varied range of services at an annual subscription of N20,000. Capacity development is at the very core of these interventions- ensuring that the healthcare personnel are better trained and positioned to delivery across all streams.
Several medical donations have been made to support infant health and surgical medicine. Notable amongst these are the donations of incubators and other health equipment to the health centre at the SOS Village, Isolo, Lagos and Federal Medical Centre in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and partnership with BEARS Foundation to perform 50 congenital cleft lip and palate reconstructive surgeries. SNEPCo also equipped and supported a neonatal hearing screening programme at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital in Kwara State. These initiatives support the government in delivering effective health care with the communities taking ownership of the facilities and programmes. SNEPCo continues to identify potential areas of collaboration with government, non-governmental and community stakeholders.

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