WE cannot stop every germ that seeks to harm us any more than we can stop every person who seeks to harm us. But we can but try and government's essential role in that regard is to contain it and improve our health. It is often said that health is wealth, but who cares and how?
This is the typical agony of the average Nigerian who today cannot not afford to visit private hospitals for medical attention. Most times such people out of poverty, non-availability of government hospitals and frustration resort to self-medication without proper diagnosis, there by increasing the rate of untimely death.
That was the terrible experience of most Abia people for a very long time, until recently. Before now whenever people were sick, it was either they go to patent medicine dealers with limited knowledge or expertise on healthcare, visit private hospitals for those who could afford it, stay at home and suffer pains which might eventually lead to their death or go to hospitals outside the state.
Mostly affected then were the rural dwellers who could not access the city to buy drugs from medicine dealers, or afford to go private hospitals within or outside the state.
The only functional government hospital in the state capital, Umuahia, which is the Abia State General Hospital at Amaracha, located along Ossah Road was not even fit to be called a hospital where patients could be treated of their ailments . Workers in the hospital saw the place as more of a recreational centre where they come to while away the time because they were owed back log of salaries by successive governments in the state. Then, the health situation in the state called for a state of emergence because of its precariousness.
But to my greatest amazement while at home during the last yuletide celebration, I could not believe what I saw on ground in the state in the area of health delivery and infrastructure development. On enquiry, I discovered that the private hospital with the name Alaoma Hospital belonging to Dr Ezeogo Anagha Ezeikpe located along Aba Road Umuahia has been acquired by the present government of Chief Theodore Orji.
Having not been around for years, I could not recognise it due to the massive rehabilitation and upgrading that had taken place there that has transformed into the Abia Specialist and Diagnostic Centre with state-of-art medical equipment. The project was executed by the state government in partnership with MECURE, a reputable and international health company. The Centre is currently witnessing another expansion to accommodate a planned dialysis centre where the problems of kidney would be handled instead of taking patients to oversea for treatment.
The Abia General Hospital at Amachara which I once described as not even good to be called a mortuary before I left the country has equally been equipped, modernised and upgraded with sophisticated and modern equipment to meet the health needs of the people within and outside the state. Inside the hospital compound, new buildings were erected and old ones were equally rehabilitated.
I also discovered that the same midas touch has been extended to Umunneto General Hospital by the government to take care of people in Abia North zone.
The Abia State University Uturu, which has its medical school at Aba with partial accreditation before 2007 to train undergraduate doctors, has been granted full accreditation. I learnt that it was made possible by the intervention of the Governor Orji who put the necessary things in place, including several edifices to ensure that the accreditation was fully granted to save the future of the graduates of the department whose fate has been hanging in the balance for years over the partial accreditation.
I can recall also that before 2007, only two Schools of Nursing in the state were fully accreditated, but today seven Schools of Nursing have been fully granted accreditation by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. Also, the School of Health Technology Aba, School of Nursing Umuahia, Uzuakoli Tuberculosis and Leprosy Centre have witnessed massive rehabilitation and expansion.
In partnership with EU-Prime, the state government has distributed 20 vans to the council areas in the state for effective immunization of children against polio and other sicknesses. And in line with Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, the government in the state has built over 200 health centres across the 17 council areas in state. Most of the centres, which are mainly located in the rural areas, have been equipped, while some others are being equipped. Health personnel have been posted to the already completed and equipped ones.Those without resident doctors have visiting doctors attached to them and qualified nurses permanently attached to attend to the patients with the visiting doctors coming regularly.
The government has also paid all the counterpart funds relating to HIV/AIDS programmes in the state and for other health agencies that have anything to do with HIV/AIDS. Due to the impressive performance of the state in reproductive health in partnership with United Nation Funds For Population Activities, UNFPA, the State remains the only one in the South East zone selected for participation in UNFPA. In addition, the organisation selected the State as its zonal headquarters.
So I was not surprised when I learnt that a prominent non-governmental organization, Health Watch Initiative, had nominated Governor Orji for award as the Health Ambassador of the Year. It is an award well deserved because of his government's radical transformation in the health sector since he assumed office as governor in 2007.
Dr.COSMOS UGWABOR, management expert wrote from USA.