Exclusive: How regulatory agency killed Airtel Nigeria’s world-class healthcare project

Posted by Amechi Obiakpu, Lagos | 23 April 2016 | 2,721 times

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The inability to secure licence and official permission for its health-care project has led to the early termination of the proposed ‘Ask Apollo’ initiative, a collaborative effort between Airtel and India-based Apollo Hospitals, designed to enhance access to world-class health-care services to deserving customers of the network.  

The project was announced in October 2014, at Diamond Helix Medical Assistance, Lekki, Lagos, operators of the service in Nigeria.

News Express investigations revealed that a month after the project was announced, almost a year and half ago, the project was compelled to shut down due to lack of permission from the relevant regulatory authority, the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council (NMDC). The reason for the denial of permission for the world-class project is unclear.

An e-mail sent to Mr Erhumu Bayagbon, Manager, Media Relations, Airtel Nigeria, was neither acknowledged nor responded to.

But in response to a similar mail sent to Apollo Hospitals, India by News Express, one Tejesvi disclosed that the project could not continue because of lack of approval from the necessary regulatory body. The terse mail reads: “The project had to be terminated due to licensing and permission issues from NMDC. We were asked to close within a month from launch.”

Chido Nwankama, Managing Director, Blue Flower Communications, PR Consultant to Airtel at the time the project was announced, said it was not ethical to comment on the issue as his company was no longer in the employ of the communications outfit. 

Under the partnership, Airtel Nigeria’s premier customers would have benefitted from medical consultation with Apollo Hospital’s doctors in India. Besides, the renowned Indian hospital would have equally cooperated with Airtel Nigeria in creating health awareness, with a particular emphasis on preventive health-care.

The organisers had said that with the facility, beneficiaries will not have to travel abroad for medical treatment, especially to India, because it can happen on a video conferencing.

“Video conferencing is beyond the normal face-to-face and speaking video chat. In a video conferencing, a person can talk to each other and see each other’s face. But for a doctor to give proper advice, he needs a lot of information about the patient and he needs to examine the patient. This technology ensures that all information that the doctor requires is available through the software and the technology that we introduced and a doctor can sit thousands of miles away, examine the patient, get advice from the specialist and get treated here in Nigeria,” one health authority explained.

•Photo shows Airtel Nigeria CEO Segun Ogunsanya.


Source: News Express

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