Jalal Arabi, Permanent Secretary in charge of the State House Clinic, says services offered by the hospital are free, hence its inability to function optimally.
Arabi said the clinic would henceforth commercialise its services in order to remain afloat.
This comes days after Zahra Buhari, one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughters, condemned the clinic’s management via a post that went viral on the social media.
Zahra had complained that despite the billions allocated to the clinic in the budget, patients could not access quality healthcare there.
Many media houses had also done critical reports about the hospital, which is situated right inside the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Reacting to the various reports, Arabi said that the hospital is the only medical facility in Abuja where services are absolutely free for patients.
“This is the only health centre in Abuja where patients are not required to pay any dime before consultation,” he said in a press statement signed by Atta Esa, Deputy Director, Information at the State House.
“In other government hospitals in Abuja, patients are required to pay for consultation, treatment, laboratory tests and others, but that has not been the case with the State House Medical Centre.
‘‘The Centre offers free services; nobody pays a kobo for hospital card, consultations or prescriptions; and this has taken a toll on the subvention the Centre receives from the government.
‘‘We have some of the best equipment in the country. For instance, to maintain the MRI and other scan machines, we spend close to N2 million monthly. Yet we do not charge a dime for those who require MRI scans in the clinic.”
Arabi said that going forward, the clinic’s management will “among other things seek the commercialisation of the centre to boost its revenue and augment the appropriation it receives from the government in the quest for a better qualitative service”.
The commercialisation will be only a part of other reform efforts aimed at returning the clinic to its deserved status.
“We have already created a NHIS (National Health Insurance Scheme) desk at the clinic where patients will be required to authentic their profile,” Arabi said.
“If their HMOs (Health Maintenance Organisations) are registered in other hospitals, they will be required to transfer to the centre.
“This is another way through which we can boost revenue generation at the hospital and this has started yielding results because the stark reality is there is no free lunch anywhere.”
Arabi, however, dismissed allegations of corruption and embezzlement of funds meant for medical supplies in the centre, as alleged by Zahra’s social media post.
“I know people will insinuate and give all sorts of reasons because they don’t ask but it will be foolhardy and madness for anybody in his senses to defraud a medical centre of a kobo and toying with people’s lives,” he said.
“No sane person will do that, so the truth of the matter is that the hospital is being run on subvention and appropriation.
“If it (subvention) comes, we pile the drugs; but the truth is the drugs are always overwhelmed by the number of people who use the centre, because it is not controlled,” he said.