THE current state of the country's healthcare system can be said to be quite worrisome, judging by the health indicators and statistics that are abysmal. In fact, Nigeria's health indicators have stagnated or even deteriorated during the past decade.
It is in effort to address these problems that President Goodluck Jonathan Transformation agenda in the health sector was packaged. National Transformation is holistic overhaul of segment of the national life that is political, economic and social life.
Transformation itself is a development strategy aimed at complete or radical change in the life of an individual, organisation, community or even the nation at large.
Transformation or reform, particularly in the health institution is a process that seeks changes in the health sector policies, financing and organisation of services as well as in the role of government to reach national health objectives.
Health is wealth and as such the Agenda is expected to invest greatly on health to reduce infant and maternal mortality. It is based on this that the health policy is to achieve human capital development goal of the vision 20:2020 strategy which is captured in the National Strategic Health Development Plan (NSHDP).
The NSHDP is the vehicle for actions at all levels of the health care delivery system which seeks to foster the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other national and international targets and declaration commitments.
It is therefore heartening that one health institution that is working hard to realise this transformation agenda is the Federal medical Centre Umuahia, Abia State.
The Chief Medical Director Dr.Abali Chuku on assumption of office came up with several innovations to transform the foremost medical institution to a centre of excellence. One of the innovations to serve as the driver of this transformation agenda is the SAFE initiative. SAFE is an acronym for Seek an Area for Excellence.
It is an integrated and painstakingly designed programme on which platform the arduous objective of making FMC Umuahia the foremost medical centre by 2015 rests.
It encapsulates the following. Procurement of state-of-the-art medical equipment in varied fields of medicine where FMC Umuahia is developing core competences.
Building of first-class infrastructure to support the world-class equipment and provide the enablement to deliver efficient and timely health care services.
First-class training for different categories of health workers and administrators. The objective is to fast-track specialisation in various fields for doctors and nurses.
When Dr. Chuku assumed office as the CMD of FMC Umuahia in May 2011, he came in with a wealth of experience, exposure and academic qualification that no doubt meet the requirements of transforming the hospital into a medical tourist centre.
He had a clear vision of what he would want to accomplish in a hospital whose past but proud heritage is inextricably linked to its royal antecedent.
Surprisingly and contrary to expectations, he was not interested in the state of the hospital before, rather what he did was to determine what he needed to do to achieve his vision which is to nurture FMC, Umuahia, to become the foremost FMC in the country.
For the hospital to achieve this goal, the CMD set a target for 2015, to provide the most comprehensive and diverse tertiary health services in Nigeria. Some of the essentials components of SAFE initiative include
Capacity Development and Specialisation
Using the platform of the SAFE Project, the CMD is deepening medical practices at FMC, Umuahia, in the following areas: Obstetrics and Gynecological Care, Cardiothoracic Medicine, Surgery, Assisted Fertilisation, Intensive Care and Internal Medicine
The FMC, Umuahia, has one of the best Intensive Care Units, ICU, in the country. This is the conclusion of both the West African College of Surgeons and the National College of Medicine.
In fact, the ICU has been equipped to handle any emergency or exigencies that may arise in any aspect of health care. A measure of the efficacy of the services of the ICU was the quality service rendered after the attempted assassination of the CMD on October 31, 2011.
The ICU successfully managed what was obviously a very serious case which kept him alive before his eventual evacuation to a hospital abroad.
Dr. Chuku's vision for cardiothoracic medicine has started to manifest. He has put together a team of staff members comprising two doctors, two cardiac surgeons, one anesthesiologist, a perfusionist and an ICU nurse.
They are at present in India undergoing intensive training so as to form on their return a formidable cardiothoracic team in June. Investment in the training of these professionals, which is in collaboration with an Indian health institution, has been massive.
Mr. ADAEZE ONUOHA, a social critic, wrote from Umuahia, Abia State.