IN THE NEWS: HOW UDOM CHANGED THE FACE OF AKWA IBOM HEALTH SECTOR
By Joe Iniodu
…………..The maxim, health is wealth, has acquired incontrovertible veracity in the Udom administration. Empirical evidences which run across primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary facets are testimonials to this assertion. Governor Emmanuel obviously driven by the persuasion that only a healthy population can sire a healthy workforce, has brought real revolution to the health sector in Akwa Ibom State.
In many countries, health services are considered as social service. In Akwa Ibom State, the administration acknowledges same and thus has extended free health services to various segments of the society. But most importantly, it has upgraded health facilities in the State and made them efficient and contemporary to serve the health needs of the people of the State.
One of the social challenges which readily leads to population depletion is the absence of efficient healthcare delivery system. But the efficient healthcare system must also have proximal advantage to enable those in need access the facilities with little or no encumbrances. This is where Governor Udom Emmanuel has earned plaudit as he has set out diligently to rehabilitate and equip long abandoned health facilities and turned them into oasis of hope again to people within the precincts the hospitals are located.
Governor Emmanuel acknowledges the fact that one cannot play politics with the health of the citizenry. At the helms of the health sector, is a thorough bred professional, Dr. Dominic Ukpong whose knowledge in the sector is deep and contemporary. The governor, obviously haunted by the quest to foist fundamental changes in the sector had to go for a man who would meet the demands of his well conceived health policy.
Today, Akwa Ibom can boast of a health sector that is not only encouraging medical tourism but also effective enough to increase the life expectancy of the people. This is because the equipment/facilities are of cutting edge standard. With a delivery of about 50 containers of medical equipment with equal number still being awaited from the United States, the health policy of the State is in a pole position to deliver quality health services to the people of the State.
Some of the equipment that the Udom administration has imported for use in hospitals in the State include: electrocardiograph 3 Channels, colonoscopy (with halogen light), x-ray film processor, x-ray film viewer, gastroscope, operating theatre light (5-Spot light), operating table, anastasia trolley with ventilator and monitor, syringe pump, electro surgical units, monopolar-bipolar operating instruments, suction pump and host of other state-of-the art equipment including CT Scanners, Surgical microscope for eyes. It is foreseeable where the state of healthcare delivery would be when these surfeit of equipment/facilities are fully deployed.
The preparedness of government to turn the health sector around is not lost on anyone who is following the quiet revolution that is ripping through the sector. Primary health care sector which had long been neglected is receiving full attention with communities enjoying access to healthcare. But the revolution is more impactful in the secondary sector where landmark strides have been recorded. Governor Emmanuel’s focus on secondary healthcare started early in the life of the administration. As soon as he assumed office, he visited St. Luke Hospital, Anua. Saddened by the dilapidated state of facilities in the hospital, the governor decided to construct a brand new 300-bed gynecology ward in honour of a reputable Irish Missionary, Dr. Ann Ward who dedicated decades of selfless service saving lives in that hospital.
With that done, Governor Emmanuel made foray into the health needs of the people. He may have been shocked with the state of the hospitals which had become centers of death rather than where lives were saved. This may have led the governor to re-examine and review the extant health policy. Pursuant to this, he undertook the rehabilitation and upgrading of many of the General Hospitals in the State. One of the beneficiaries of this turn-around is Etinan General Hospital. The hospital which hitherto was an eyesore today wears a new look with state-of-the art medical equipment to go with it. Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo who commissioned the rehabilitated hospital on September, 23, 2017 said: “This is an extremely useful project, this is the type of project, I believe touches the lives of the people directly”.
If the rehabilitation of Etinan General hospital was a feat, then that of Ikot Okoro can be called a wonder. Known to have been overgrown with weeds and turned into a habitat for rodents, the hospital today is indisputably a model of modern healthcare facility. It has equally been equipped with modern equipment to enable the facility deliver quality health care services to the people. General Hospitals, Ituk Mbang and Ibiaku Ntok Okpo have also enjoyed similar rehabilitations. Immanuel Hospital, Eket has also enjoyed impressive turn around. Similarly, General Hospital, Iquita Oron and Comprehensive Health Centre, Awa Onna are part of the revolution which put them in good stead to deliver efficient health service to the people.
Governor Emmanuel also knows that equipment and facilities no matter how sophisticated would not deliver efficient healthcare without effective manpower, of course complemented with training and retraining and incentives. In line with the aforestated, Governor Emmanuel sometime ago made provision for residential quarters for 48 House officers in the State Hospitals and 50 in the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital. It also facilitated the training and certification of 100 doctors and nurses in Basic Lives Support and Advanced Cardiac Lives Support with Medical Energy Experts from the USA. It has equally facilitated the training of 20 Biomedical Engineers. In the area of incentives and remuneration, the State pays regularly the consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and CONHESS to medical and dental practitioners and nurses respectively.
Governor Udom Emmanuel has through the health sector demonstrated an understanding of corporate governance which considers the people as central and salient to all other facets. After all, no other facet of governance is operationable without the people. His prioritization of the health sector therefore is equally proportional to the high premium he places on the lives of Akwa Ibom people.
Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst
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