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Anambra state: For lack of equipment, hospitals not performing at optimal level

By The Citizen

ANAMBRA State is lucky that health indices in the state are on the positive side and this is attributable to the determination of the state government to achieve the health aspects of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Anambra is one of the few states that experience the frequent outbreak of certain diseases, like cholera epidemic and measles and this is due to proper application of resources in the sector. In fact, the state has not had any case of polio in the past seven years, though the state ministry of health routinely embarks on immunization on regular basis.

Though the government has rehabilitated the over 200 government- owned health institutions, including the General Hospitals and Primary Healthcare Centers scattered in the rural areas, there is still much to be done. Some of the hospitals rehabilitated by the state government are yet to operate at optimal level because of lack of some necessary equipments.

In fact, the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital started by the present state government has been completed and is in full operation.

The hospital has also been accredited by Nigerian Medical and Dental Council for the training of medical doctors and specialists.

The state University Teaching Hospital also has sickle cell screening center for newborn babies. The state government has also established a dialysis center at the Onitsha General Hospital in which government has subsidized fees paid by patients.

There is also the federal government -owned Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi which has been producing medical doctors in the last 15 years. Officials of the Teaching Hospital are currently shopping for N2.5 billion special intervention fund to enable the health institution improve facilities at its permanent site in Nnewi. Nnewi community donated a large expanse of land for the permanent site of the hospital, but lack of funds had slowed down the movement to the site.

Prof. Ivara Esu said in Nnewi that the delay in moving the hospital to its permanent site was hampering proper service delivery, arguing that the temporary site of the hospital has got to the limit to which it could grow, and therefore can no longer accommodate more patients. The implication, he said, is that a lot of patients who need healthcare services are denied access to treatment.

According to him, the N2.5 billion would enable them to complete the prioritized projects at the site to achieve the level of development that would make it possible for partial movement to the permanent site of the hospital as soon as possible.

He said: 'We are not saying that N2.5 billion, if granted, will be enough to complete the projects, but if we get that amount and add it to the regular budget, it will go far in helping our objective of developing priority projects that will help realize our objectives within the limit of our fund.

Realizing that government cannot do everything alone, Governor Peter Obi decided to partner with the churches in both the education and health sectors. So far, four missionary hospitals owned by the missionaries have received financial assistance of over N2 billion to enable them upgrade their facilities to put them in good shape for accreditation by the relevant professional bodies.

Hospitals that have received such assistance include the Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha; Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Ihiala; St. Joseph's Hospital, Adazi-Nnukwu; Iyi Enu Hospital, Ogidi; Diocesan Hospital, Amichi; among others. Only recently, the governor presented 39 life ambulances to various hospitals in the state, including those owned by the missions. The ambulances are equipped with operating facilities and could serve as hospitals in times of emergency.

The governor said during the presentation that the state government was encouraged to continue supporting the churches because of responsible manner they utilize the funds granted them as could be measured by the projects they have executed.

According to him, the state government would spend another N200m in each of the hospitals within the next three months to enable them upgrade infrastructure. Indeed, a large chunk of the funds being used to fund the health sector came as a result of blossoming partnership with international donor agencies, which have found Anambra a stable place to work since Obi came to office.

Professor Chinyere Okunna, the Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, who is also coordinating the activities under the Millennium Development Goals, MDG, said the state government cannot afford to toy with the intervention programmes of the development partners in building capacities in the health sector, recalling how difficult it was for Governor Obi to woo them back to the state when he assumed office in 2006.

President of the women, Dr. Kate Ezeofor said they have already acquired 7.7 hectares of land at Omogho in Orumba North local government area for the project in collaboration with IPAS.

Ezeofor said: 'Medical records show that about 5000 Nigerians travel to India every month for medical treatment and this is worrisome. Our organization abroad has many doctors, pharmacists, nurses and technicians that are prepared to work in the country if the right atmosphere is created for them.

'We are worried that many Nigerians die untimely of diseases such as cancer, kidney failure, heart attack, hypertension, diabetes, child birth, orthopedic cases and lack of equipment for proper diagnosis. That is why we decided to provide a way forward for saving lives in Nigeria by building state -of- the- art hospital and diagnostic center of international standard at Omogho.

The traditional ruler of Omogho, Igwe Raphael Offor, with the support of his community, has given us 7.7 hectares of land for the project and we are calling on Nigerians to be part of the project.'

Bayelsa State : Obsolete structures are disappearing

Aside the Federal Medical Centre in Yenagoa, the only referral federation health institution in Bayelsa which hitherto dilapidated structures have given way to modern structures with breathtaking landscaping, the other biggest hospital in use in the predominantly riverine state is the Okolobiri GeneralHospital which was recently upgraded as Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital NDUTH. Five years ago, the FMC was in state of decay and lacking modern working equipment.

The complex was also infested with reptiles and other dangerous animals. But the situation is different today. The complex is dotted with modern structures while more are still springing up. Also, services at the centre have improved remarkably.

In the council areas of the state, projects under construction include model referral health institutions, model and international diagnostic centres, partnership with the Dora Akunyili Foundation forte establishment of the the first Drug Mart in Africa. Work on the project is on going.

The state also instituted the Bayelsa State Health Services Scheme to increase access to affordable healthcare where a draft of N500m was presented as take off grant to the newly inaugurated board to kick-start the programme. Also,  the school of nursing has been upgraded.

But the five hundred-bed GeneralHospital now known as the MelfordOkiloMemorialHospital which was initiated by the administration of former Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha  is yet to the completed several years after it took off.

Though it has undergone series of redesigning with work still on going, the sprawling complex situated along the Imgbi road in the heart of the state capital when completed is expected to ease the pressure on the FMC and the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri.