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Moving health sector to greater heights



WHEN in the maiden edition of the convocation of the Queen of Rosary Hospital, Waterside, Onitsha .in year 2015, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State  said nobody would fathom by what magic the former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi achieved all he did in the health sector, especially his contributions to the upgrade of mission hospitals, including Queen of Rosary Hospital and Maternity , Waterside, Onitsha, little did anyone know he(Obiano) will do much in the health sector .

At that convocation,  the Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe  Akabuike revealed that the present government was continuing from its predecessor. He assured that no project would be abandoned

At a workshop organized by a non-governmental organization, the Civil Rights Concern, CRN, in Awka in 2018,the director of CRN, Mr. Okey Onyeka,  decried the deplorable condition of public health facilities in Anambra State and called for an increased budget in the health sector, as well as a regular presentation of budget performance in the area to enable stakeholders to evaluate it regularly.

In a reaction, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe Akabuike said that the state government had plans to upgrade the health centres in the state and that the project would be spearheaded by the state Primary Health Care Development Agency.

The commissioner said it was an intervention the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, had introduced to bring healthcare to the grassroots. He explained that no fewer than 63 health facilities in the state had already been upgraded to world class standard.

Akabuike  made an observation  that the healthcare system in the state was neglected for a long time, adding that it was for that reason that Governor Willie Obiano was deploying radical approach to reform the system.

“We didn’t have an organized system before now. What we had was a horizontal and vertical disintegration of the system. To reform a system takes time. One may not see the result immediately, but I can assure that this administration is doing great in that sector”.

Well, as years past, Governor Obiano swung into action. In 2018, during the annual  medical mission by a team of health professionals from Realizing Inter-Disciplinary System of Excellence, RISE Health Corporation, RHC, a non-governmental organization, based in the United States of America, Governor Obiano signed Memorandum of Understanding, between the corporation and the Anambra State Government, with the aim of improving the health care delivery in the state.

President of the Corporation and Chief Operating Officer of RISE Global Health Initiative, RGHI, Dr. Hien Tran, signed on its behalf in the presence of the Chief Executive Officer, CEO of RISE Clinic Nigeria, RCN, Dr. Emeka Okeke, while Governor Willie Obiano, signed on behalf of the government.

After the MoU ceremony, the week-long events continued with the RISE medical team visiting Orumba General Hospital, Ajalli, followed by a sensitization seminar at the RISE Clinic headquarters, Adazi-Ani and the training of medical personnel at White Castle Hotel, Neni, before rounding up with another visit to Ogbaru General Hospital, Ossomala.

Also,Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe Akabuike, during an interactive session with newsmen at his office at the Jerome Udoji Secretariat Complex, Awka,  recently,  disclosed  that government had not left non in doubt as to its commitment toward improved healthcare for NdiAnambra.

Dr Akabuike said he had been privileged to be in the vanguard of the working governor of Anambra, who he said had continued with the same momentum of many achievements.

According to him, “we started out with improving the primary healthcare centres; that is the first level in the healthcare project.

We started the primary healthcare development agency since 2014, as of 2018 we have fully implemented the primary healthcare under one roof and it is fully functional.

“States that have functional Primary Healthcare Development Agency (PHCDA) are entitled to 500,000 dollars through `Saving One Million Lives Programme’ for Results (SOMLP for R) under Federal Ministry of Health.

“And Anambra State is now qualified to receive the 500,000 dollars.

He added that  “the Secondary Healthcare level under Obiano administration has a target of upgrading three General Hospitals in three senatorial zones across the state to Specialist Hospitals.

“The Enugwu-Ukwu General Hospital is at 40 per cent completion, Onitsha General Hospital now at 90 per cent completion and Ekwulobia General Hospital at 75 per cent completion.”

“The Health Commissioner stressed that Gov. Obiano had continued with the projects started in the first tenure.” We inherited almost dilapidated general hospitals, for instance, we have continued renovations of community general hospitals.

“The Anaku General Hospital, Nawgu General Hospital and Mbaukwu General Hospital have been fully renovated and inaugurated,” Akabuike emphasised.

He said that at the tertiary level, the state has two teaching hospitals; one is Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, Nnewi and the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COOUTH), Awka.

Akabuike noted that the current administration had secured the fourth, the fifth Nigerian Dental and Medical Council accreditation (NDMC) and then graduated the first set of medical students.

He also said that government has been able to install diagnostic equipment that would make COOUTH to be world class teaching hospital.” From 2018 to date, this government has done what we call `Health Reforms with the Health Insurance Scheme’ — the Anambra State Health Insurance Agency (ASHA).” One good thing about this initiative is that, it is not political but a legacy project that will continue to exist even after the current administration.

“We have formed a private, public partnership with some companies. We also have what we call `Community Government Partnership with the management of hospitals in the state.” We believed that, if the communities begin to have interest in their own hospitals then the service will improve,” Dr Akabuike emphasised.

However, Akabuike said that Gov. Obiano good policies have attracted people that partnered with the state government.” We have the Challenge Initiatives, it is actually from UK, and they are partnering with Anambra Government on birth-Control.” The UK partnership has helped in renovating majority of the healthcare centres in the state.

“While we are focused on achieving all these, we also faced some challenges and the notable one is flooding. As you know floodwaters covered many communities in the state at a certain point.

He adds: “our ministry was able to send health workers to the flood-ravaged areas and within that period, we recorded 27 deliveries and treated no fewer than 1,500 patients”.

The next problem we faced was the fire incident that occurred at the Enugwu-Ukwu General Hospital that engulfed the mortuary at which about 90 corpses got burnt.

“But we were able to deploy forensic pathologies to identify the corpses; about 50 of such dead bodies were identified.

“Then we sent other bodies for DNA testing, so as to be able to identify them.

“Usually we had what we call implementing partners, we get them mainly in the primary healthcare, and they assist with immunisation like European Union (EU).” We also have support from Save One Million Life in a schedule between the World Bank and the Federal Government.” World Health Organisation (WHO) also helped us with data collection and processing in the state,” he explained.

Akabuike said that Anambra State took first position in a routine immunisation exercise that is counting the number of people that were immunised.

“We are also first in one skill combat exercise, 97 participated and we have remained unbeaten till date.” We have had a lot of partnership from Indigenous and foreign partners, apart from the Indian Medical team that came to treat our people last year at which they treated no fewer than 1,000 patients.’

‘According to him,  : “the best thing that happened was that they left us all the equipment they brought along; we have attracted a lot of people from home and abroad coming to support and offer free Medicare.

“We have Umuokpu from U.S. that came with equipment worth about 5 million dollars which they donated to (COOUTH), Awka as well as then Iyienu Teaching Hospital.” Anambra is an investment destination; the sponsors have noticed that once they give out medical equipment, it’s going to be used properly.” We also have partnership with Nigerian Medical Association. What else doe say to our governor,” Thank you sir.”




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