Access Bank Plc has continued to play a leading role in Nigeria’s effort at providing quality healthcare delivery to the generality of the people of the country. This is in recognition of the fact that government alone cannot meet the healthcare needs of the over 170 million population that increases by the day.
Indeed, the country’s inability to stem the tide of infectious and non-communicable diseases, especially among the poor, has spurred the need for collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors, to find a lasting solution to the myriad of health challenges that confront Nigerians.
Herbert Wigwe, group managing director and chief executive officer, has inspired Access Bank to go beyond palliatives that sometimes pass for corporate social responsibility, to engage in initiatives that address the country’s health challenges, especially ailments and illnesses that threaten the larger population. This is in line with the bank’s philosophy of developing the people for the overall development of the country, since a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. This philosophy is evident in the bank’s activities in all human endeavour, both social and economic.
Involvement in N5 billion virology research centre
Access Bank is collaborating with the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN) in raising five billion naira for the building of a state-of-the-art International Research Centre of Excellence (IRCE) in Abuja for the promotion of public, private partnership for quality health services, capacity building and research in West Africa.
Wigwe’s decision to involve the bank in the project is informed by the desire to ensure the financial institution plays a prominent role in the effort to reduce the country’s dependence on international donor organizations for the eradication of both communicable and non-communicable diseases which, in any case, is not sustainable. This is in line with the bank’s core values of team work, innovation, quality excellence, integrity, transparency, accountability and respect for human dignity, which accounts for its impressive performance under Wigwe.
Alhaji (Dr.) Umaru Mutallab, chairman of the IHVN ad-hoc committee for the building of the centre, emphasized the need to be less dependent on foreign donors at the announcement of the collaboration. “We cannot continually depend, lock, stock and barrel, on the big-heartedness of the international community for all our health needs and those of our children, neither should we always travel outside the shores of this great nation when we can build sustainable capacities for collaborative researches into diseases that affect our wellbeing and of the whole world”.
Purpose of the centre
The IHVN established IRCE in 2004 to address the HIV/AIDS which was threatening to develop into a pandemic, through the development of infrastructure for treatment, care, prevention and support for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Existence of the centre has enabled IHVN to achieve tremendous success in its operations. With the current expansion programme, the institute will be able to step up its fight against infectious and non-communicable diseases in Nigeria and West Africa.
When completed, the centre will be a combination of laboratories, offices, training facilities and lecture auditoriums – a world-class infrastructure for scientists to engage in collaborative research on diseases that affect local populations, such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, cancer and non-communicable diseases, in Nigeria and West Africa. It will foster collaborations and synergy between Nigeria’s finest researchers and their counterparts in international research institutes and universities. It will also provide opportunity for young Nigerian researchers to develop and execute research projects.
The IRCE will be under the direct leadership of Professor Alash’le G. Abimiku, a distinguished scientist.
The centre is one of the fulcrums of the vision of IHVN as a local, non-governmental and not-for profit organization set up to bring quality health care within the reach of the generality of Nigerians and other West African nationals
When completed, it centre will enable IHVN to create of an enabling environment for creative thinking and innovation in science, with a view to addressing health priorities in the West African sub-region.
Access Bank’s belief in collaboration
Access Bank’s belief in collaboration as the surest way to achieving common objectives could be seen in the fact that Dangote Foundation, a foremost charitable organization whose activities cover health, nutrition and the environment, is also involved in the virology centre. Wigwe highlighted the essence of relationships in a speech he delivered through Victor Etuokwu, the bank’s executive director, at the announcement of the partnership.
“The true essence of life is relationship with others”, he said. “It’s the real reason we are here. When we sit back and watch diseases take over while we do nothing, we stand to lose everything. I think it’s a really worthy cause. So here is a call to you to come, join hands with IHVN and help restore hope”.