Kanu Shows His Heart Is Still In Nigeria

by JBrown on July 19, 2012

in Health Care

Post image for Kanu Shows His Heart Is Still In Nigeria

Legendary Nigerian footballer believes the country is undermining its health sector by sending hundreds of people abroad for heart operations 

The African footballing legend Kanu Nwankwo has formed a partnership with the Nigerian Lottery Regulatory Commission to raise N5 billion for his foundation’s cardiac centre in the country’s capital city of Abuja.

Kanu, who still plays for the English club Portsmouth at the age of 45, has lamented the fact that medical tourism is killing the health sector in Nigeria. He argues that millions of dollars are being spent abroad by the Government of Nigeria to pay for hundreds of heart operations.

The footballer cares deeply about the issue because a heart problem almost ended his career. In the summer of 1996 he joined Inter Milan but after the deal had gone through, a routine medical revealed a faulty aortic valve in his heart. 

A second chance

Surgery gave him a second chance and inspired him to use his fame to save lives by setting up the Kanu Heart Foundation, which has helped thousands of African children to receive treatment for heart problems.

Kanu’s argument is that the money ploughed into foreign coffers by the Nigerian Government could be invested in the Nigerian health sector to improve its present deplorable condition. He says that about 450 patients have been flown abroad for various heart treatments at a cost of millions of naira.

Kanu has lived in England for years, but he is a keen observer of the political and economic scene in Nigeria. His concern for the country’s development was a major reason behind his decision to become a long-term ambassador for leading property developer The First Group.

Ambassadorial role

The Dubai-based company has a strong interest in the Nigerian property market. Its The One Kempinski Abuja is an iconic building comprising 264 premium serviced residences, located in the heart of the central business district.

The One Kempinski Abuja

Kanu has said that The First Group is leading the way in bringing modern developments to the fast-growing Nigerian capital. Certainly, The One Kempinski is the kind of luxury serviced residences that an African city could only have dreamt about a couple of decades ago. But Abuja is now home to an estimated one million people and the population is forecast to reach 3.5 million by 2015.

Respected views

Kanu’s views about the health sector and the property market are respected in his native land, where he is a legend. He was a member of the Nigerian national team for 16 years from 1994 until 2010 and won two African Player of the Year awards.

He has also won a UEFA Champions League medal, a UEFA Cup medal, three FA Cup Winners Medals. He is one of few players to have won the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup and an Olympic Gold Medal.

Kanu is one of many international sporting ambassadors working with The First Group, including Manchester United star Michael Owen, South African Rugby Union player, Bryan Habana and Russia’s double grand slam tennis champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova.

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