Positioning Health Care In Udom’s Completion Agenda
There is wisdom in the aphorism, “Health is Wealth”. Such wisdom is behind the understanding of government that the essence of purposeful governance must incorporate a good health care system as an integral part of its development agenda.
The place of health in the development of any society cannot be overemphasized. Ideally, health care and education are often given top priority in United Nations intervention programmes for less developed countries of the world. Governments, historically, have taken issues of health care seriously, given the understanding and conscious appraisal of health as the key index of developed and developing economies. Accordingly, such governments have undoubtedly made huge budgetary provisions in a determined effort to make health care services easily accessible.
It is this understanding that informed the development approach to governance by the Akwa Ibom State government under the leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel that premium must necessarily be placed on strengthening the secondary health care infrastructure in the State.
Consequently, Governor Emmanuel took healthcare development as one of the pillars of his five point development agenda in his first term in office and has continued to give it prominence in his second term completion agenda.
It is noteworthy that shortly after assumption of office in May, 2015, Governor Emmanuel embarked on assessment tour of some critical infrastructure in the State, that are important to human development. One of such facilities was the St. Luke’s hospital Anua, a famous and long standing secondary health institution in Akwa Ibom State.
The visit heralded a renaissance in the health sector, with the renovation and re-equipping of major secondary healthcare facilities across the state, which were hitherto, in dilapidated conditions and even lacked personnel to attend to those in need of medical services. In other situations, some of these hospitals, like the General Hospital in Ikono and Ituk Mbang, were secondary habitats for reptiles and rodents. This ugly development had posed serious health risk and most cases triggered epidemic outbreak.
In a conscious effort to revitalize the health sector, Governor Emmanuel-led-administration did not only remodel and renovate Secondary Health Institutions but also ensured that the hospitals were fitted with state-of-the-art medical equipment, imported from the United States of America. He also instituted free medical treatment for children from 0-5 years, pregnant women and the aged.
He started with the renovation and construction of new blocks and wards at St. Luke’s Hospital and proceeded to other health institutions including the General Hospital Ikot Okoro, Etinan General Hospital, Immanuel General Hospital, Eket and Ikono General Hospital also benefited from the benevolence of Governor Emmanuel’s government in the first term and today boast of qualitative health care delivery services.
Notably, the General Hospital, Ikono, became the first digitized secondary health institution in the state. The construction of the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) and Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) in Ikot Ekpene, added to the testimonial while several health programmes were brought to the fore along-side training for medical personnel and many more.
As further proof of the Governor’s determination to strengthen the health sector he took, yet, another step to remodel, reconstruct and re-equip the Awa Cottage Hospital in Onna Local Government Area. This health facility, like others experiencing the midas touch of the Udom Emmanuel led administration is equipped with state-of-the-art medical facilities and the hospital is ready for inauguration.
This magnanimity was also extended to the quaternary hospital in the state, the Ibom Specialist Hospital. A dialysis unit which was non-existing has been provided in the hospital and fully equipped.
The governor further ensured that the surgical theatre of this world class hospital receives additional sophisticated surgical equipment while also embarking on the completion and roofing of a section of the hospital that was not completed.
In spite of the much he achieved in the sector in his first term, Governor Emmanuel has not rested on his oars in his second term. He has taken further gigantic strides to ensure the well-being of the people while promoting medical tourism in the State.
Barely a month into his second term, amidst jubilation from the people, the governor inaugurated another remodeled, re-equipped and digitized secondary healthcare facility. The healthcare institution, General Hospital, Iquita, in Oron Local Government Area, Mr. Emmanuel announced, will commence training of medical personnel in the State.
Established in 1942, the once dilapidated hospital with decaying facilities, has now been given a face-lift and equipped with 191 automated beds, ultrasound equipment and three model theatres fitted with surgical LED lights. Other Units of the hospital have also been overhauled, these include: the Out Patients Department (OPD) with 15 compartments in its wing. Others are: Antenatal Unit, Laboratory, Administrative Section, Pharmacy and anti-retroviral units. One of the newly constructed buildings houses the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) as well as the Eye-care Centre. In the same vein, the Accident compartments with Ambulance bay, X-ray Unit and Offices for Doctors on call, also a new addition to the hospital.
Moreover, it is interesting to note that Iquita General Hospital serves the five Local Government Areas of Oro Nation and neighboring Cameroun, and to buttress his readiness to reduce incidences of death arising from lack of proper medical facilities in addressing health challenges at the local communities, the Governor assured that the digitalized hospital will be replicated in Eket, Ikot Ekpene and other remaining local government areas.
It was during the inauguration of the project that the governor reaffirmed his determination to transform the health sector. Thus, he granted the approval for the recruitment of additional 25 medical doctors and 100 nurses to further boost effective healthcare delivery system in the state. These 125 personnel, according to the Governor, were to receive supplementary specialized training from a foreign medical group at the instance of the State government.
When the governor said, “I have already talked to Union Medicals in North Carolina, in the United States of America, to start training those nurses and doctors by third week in August because we want to render quality medical services to our people”, he was, in effect, assuring the people of high quality service delivery by qualified medical personnel in the state.
The governor noted that so far, his administration has taken delivery of 36 containers of medical equipment, while 11 more were already cleared for delivery to the state and expecting more to arrive soon.
The procurement of these high quality medical hardwares to be distributed to hospitals across the State bears eloquent testimony of Governor Emmanuel’s commitment to re-position the healthcare sector of Akwa Ibom State.
Expressing joy during the commissioning of the remodeled hospital, the medical director of the hospital, Dr. Sebastian Noah stated, “we didn’t have good beds, we didn’t have couches, we didn’t have good operation table, theatre lights, ultrasound scan equipment and a lot of other equipment”.
The chairman of the State Hospitals Management Board, Dr. David Udo-Umo, observed that prior to the remodeling, “coming into this premises was almost like a signature that you are going to die”.
This revolution in the health sector, portrays the governor’s humane disposition. His health policy thrust can best be captured in his own words: “when the significant sectors of the population are healthy and educated they can be more productive, innovative and thus, the country can boast of a workforce that will drive the economy and provide an improved quality of living for the masses”.
Interestingly, Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, shared the same view when he performed the inauguration of Etinan General Hospital, to mark 30 years of the State creation on September 23, 2017 when he said that the Hospital project was “an extremely useful project”. “This is the type of project, I believe, touches the lives of people directly. I really congratulate His Excellency, the Governor, because this is the sort of thing that makes governance worthwhile”, the vice president added.
This magnanimity was also extended to the quaternary hospital in the state, the Ibom Specialist Hospital. A dialysis unit which was non-existing has been created in the hospital and fully equipped.
The governor further ensured that the surgical theatre of this world class hospital received additional sophisticated surgical equipment while also embarking on the completion and roofing of a section of the hospital that was not completed.
It can, thus, be deduced that Governor Emmanuel has ultimately restored the people’s confidence in public hospitals, make health care services increasingly accessible, promoted medical tourism in the State and by extension boost the economy through improved revenue profile.