ABAKALIKI- THE Health sector among other key sectors in the State had nonetheless received the attention of the present administration of Governor Martin Elechi since it came on board on May 29, 2007.
One of the strategic initiatives of the administration that is geared towards tackling the health challenges facing the state was the taking of affordable healthcare service delivery to the hinterlands of all the 13 Local government areas of the State through the introduction of awareness campaigns led by various communities, groups and the media, construction of standard healthcare Centres, streamlining of the number of general hospitals in the state, state government’s partnership with major health related partners like the World Health Organization, WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF etc and passage of relevant Health related Bills by the State House of Assembly.
These measures among others had enabled the general public to express confidence in the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary healthcare delivery of the state.
Speaking with Saturday Vanguard, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sunday Nwangele stated that when the present administration came on board, its major priority was on the functionality of the numerous Health centres across the state rather than their plurality and the implementation of Health assessment needs of the people of the State.
He said: “The Governor of Ebonyi state vested more interest in the functionality of the health facilities rather than in their multiplication. Chief Martin Elechi with emphasis on the functionality and operations of these hospitals also injected standard primary health centres directly and also through the MGDS project of the state; so we have about 443 primary health centres in the state. So far so good, the policy of the state government now is that the
present authorities of the LGA and the development centres are not encouraged to build any new health centres and where absolutely necessary, they should get clearance from the State Ministry of Health.
“We understand that more people are in the rural communities with economic challenges with poor access to health care delivery and they are prone to diseases; these rural diseases give us more of the negative health challenges in the state. And to augment what some humanitarian health service providers have been doing by attending to Ebonyi people, this led the Governor to establish the Rural Health programme, RHP.
“It is a programme that identified six rural based hospitals which are service oriented rather than profit minded and they have been able to attend to a larger portion of the rural dwellers in the state; the Governor introduced the Rural Health Programme which is the fourth tier; the purpose is to bring health care delivery to the populous yet underserved diseased challenged Ebonyi people.
“The hospitals enjoying the RHP of the state government include Mater Miserecordia Hospital, Afikpo, Sudan United Mission, Izzi, Rural Improvement Mission, Ikwo the Presbyterian Joint Hospital, Uburu and Saint Vincent Hospital Ndubia and Mile Four Hospital, Abakaliki.
“They are spread across the three senatorial zones of the state and it is a medium to reach the rural people bringing to them affordable health care delivery; a tranche of money is released to these hospitals for infrastructural development, recruitment of quality care providers, purchase of modern and diagnostic equipments so that the people do not need to come for unnecessary referrals in hospitals in the state capital. The government has so far invested N1.7 billion into this programme and the results are very eloquent as the public is calling for the sustenance of this programme”.
Also on health care delivery, the National Obstetric Fistula Centre, NOFC had treated over 1800 VVF patients from across 20 states of the federation since its inception in 2008 as the then South East Fistula Centre, Abakaliki.
The facilities in the medical complex are assisting medical experts’ carryout critical treatments including surgeries that were hitherto not possible. One thing that is peculiar about the Centre is the offering of free medical treatments to all and sundry irrespective of one’s tribe, state or political affiliation.
The centre took this format of treatment because of the wife of the Governor, Mrs. Josephine Elechi’s passion and willingness to ensure a total eradication of the VVF scourge cross the country. As a vibrant woman leader with the heart of patriot, she partnered various health related national and international agencies including the WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF among others to ensure that not only that the treatments were affordable but also qualitative in all ramifications.
Tracing the historical background of the Centre, the Chief Medical Director of NOFC, Prof. Sunday Oduoye explained that the idea behind the emergence of the National Obstetric Fistula Centre in the state was based on a project under the initiative of the Mother and Child Care Initiative, MCCI of the wife of the Governor, Mrs. Josephine Elechi geared towards the reduction of obstetric fistula among other thematic areas.
According to Oduoye, the NOFC as the cancer screening centre for the South East geopolitical zone had within the last 18 months offered free cervical and breast cancer screening to about 7000 women even as it visited the Local government areas in the state offering women living in the remote parts of the council areas the opportunity to get screened without any stress.
This development, according to him, had provoked lots of awareness among the people of the State as the Centre was now receiving more requests from both women and religious groups requesting that their communities be included in the screening exercise.
The Chief Medical Director of the Centre added that apart from offering free treatment to women suffering from the VVF scourge at the centre, it also has a component where it visits other states of the federation offering similar treatments to women.
Another establishment that is contributing its quota towards improving healthcare service delivery in the State is the Office of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P in the State. The SURE-P in the State among other areas has contributed towards the improvement of both Maternal and child health and in doing this, it selected some heath centres around the state, employed health workers and deployed same to the health centres. It equally equipped hospitals with drugs so that the pregnant women can access them at zero cost.
Saturday Vanguard also gathered that the SURE-P had successfully implemented Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT in Ebonyi State; during the exercise which took place at the pilot LGA, Ivo, pregnant women were given cash incentive to spur them to come out and receive antenatal services free of charge in a bid to reduce child mortality and maternal death to its barest minimum. Saturday Vanguard gathered that over 500 women benefited from the CCT Pilot programme launch in Ivo LGA of the State.
KOGI: Health institutions deteriorating
The State of Infrastructure of Health institutions in Kogi State is deteriorating especially primary health centers across the local government areas of the State.
While the state government has concentrated much attention on the tertiary health centers in Lokoja,the State capital and others in some major towns of the State, minimal attention has been shown to dispensary and community clinics across the 21 LGAs.
A visit across those health centres in the rural areas shows a complete state of despair with many of the building in dilapidated form. Aside from the dilapidated physical structures, majority of all the these health centres lack basic drugs and are also short of medical personnel.
At some of the dispensaries, only a nurse or one health official are left to manned them, with no trained medical doctors to attend to the medical needs of the rural people which has resulted in many of the rural dwellers seeking for medical attention in the cities despite the presence of such health centres in their communities.
Most time, its the intervention of special medical teams from non Governmental agencies or concerned individuals to the rural areas that aided the rural dwellers to access medical attention.
So far this year, the CEDIO medical team; a free rural medical programe of Governor Idris Wada has further attested to the fact that health centres in the rural communities fall short of its purpose as over 30,000 persons in the rural communities scattered across the 21 local government areas benefited from the medical team, with many of them stating that such programe is the only place that afford them the opportunity of having good medical attention.
The tertiary health centres in the cities are minimal. Only the Federal Medical centre in Lokoja shows the best of such institution as the Federal Medical centre in Ajaokuta has become obsolete lacking both in man power and medical equipment.
Not until recently was the Federal Medical centre, Lokoja equipped to handle cases of Diabetic heamolysis.
Also, the State Governor, Captain Idris Wada gave approval for the General hospital in Anyigba to be equipped into a teaching hospital as a result of the accreditation of the medical degree for the State university in Anyigba.
The State government owned health centers is not different from the Federal Government health centre. The modernized Specialist hospital in Lokoja is the only one in good operational condition coupled with the ongoing building of a diagnostic centre. But aside this, the General Hospital in Kabba, Egbe in the western Senatorial axis and Okene in the central senatorial axis though boast of enough medical staff but lack some basic equipment.