By Nafisat Bello
“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position”
– John Maxwell
There is a global consensus that universal access to healthcare is an essential human right which is critical to sustainable development. Nigeria is yet to adopt innovative ways to protect the poor and vulnerable populations against financial risk of ill health. It is important to guarantee by law the right to health care of all citizens in Nigeria. Although the National Health Act (NHA) that was signed into law in 2014 states that all Nigerians are entitled to basic minimum package of health care services.
Given that “A healthy people is a healthy nation” and considering the poor health infrastructure he inherited from the previous administration, the Governor Yahaya Bello-led administration in Kogi State left no one in doubt about his commitment to reversing the trend. Thus the health sector became his topmost priority and he embarked on a massive revamp of the sector.
Some of his interventions include renovation, remodeling and re-equipping of 21 existing Primary Health Care Centres (one per Local Government) with solar-powered boreholes and electrification to help the success of the Healthcare-Plus Programme, a microcosm of the Governor’s State Health Insurance Scheme (SHIS).
To further achieve good, quality health services, as well as increase access to services at all levels, all Primary Health Care facilities in the State were put under one roof. The National Health Act. 2014 provides for the operationalisation of Primary Health Care under One Roof (PHCUOR) by States and establishment of Local Government Health Authorities (LGHA) at the Local Government levels as conditions for benefiting from the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.
There is no doubting the fact that no sector has received as much attention as the Health sector since Governor Bello came to power. Aside from the completed state-of-the-art Medical Diagnostic Centre in the State that will arguably become the best in the country, lots of other health benefit programmes have been going on, one of which is the Healthcare Plus concept that has been applauded as one chef d’oeuvre intervention scheme across the Federation.
Recently, on behalf of Image Merchants Promotion Ltd (IMPR), publishers of PRNigeria, Economic Confidential, Politics Digest and other titles, I was privileged to be part of a media tour of the state meant to unravel all the giant strides of the present administration and to confirm all we have gotten from secondary sources about the governor’s achievements. When we met the Commissioner for Health, Dr Saka Haruna, he was excited about telling us what he and the governor have accomplished in the health sector in the state.
He said the Healthcare Plus was an intervention mechanism introduced to help pregnant women and nursing mothers get on with life with less stress and more smile.
He described the scheme as one of the best healthcare policies in the country. The programme, he said, makes it possible for pregnant women to have access to medical services across the state and at no cost. With this scheme, child/maternal mortality which was very high prior to 2016, has drastically reduced.
He stated that the long term plan of the administration had been to put in place a list of world class Teaching Hospitals, General Hospitals and Reference Hospitals that can rival anyone anywhere in the country as part of measures to stop medical tourism.
That took the conversation to the gigantic Reference Hospital the governor is building in Okene which is said to be one of the best in the country.
“Many of the equipment that will be deployed at the hospital are already available, like the Hyperbaric oxygen treatment chamber which is debuting Nigeria for the first time, fully furnished cardiology suites where investigative and interventional therapy will be carried out, are also available. A diagnostic and therapeutic procedure that has an AP lab and a Cat lab are all coming into the country for the first time,” the Commissioner said.
The Commissioner encouraged us to visit the Hospital and see things for ourselves. He assured us if we take the pain to go there we wont regret the adventure.
On getting to Okene where the Hospital is located, we were not disappointed. What we saw was an imposing 300-bed capacity Hospital which was at an advanced stage of construction and which is expected to be completed in August this year.
A world class Reference Hospital for the treatment of advanced medical conditions that have been forcing Kogites and Nigerians to go abroad in search of succour, it has Female Wards Male Wards, Emergency Wards, Surgical Wards, Medical Wards, VIP Ward, VVIP Wards, all of which are ten each in number. It also has a Ward for Renal ailments and another one for Dental issues. It has two different Laboratories (Hematology Lab and Histopathology Lab).