With the establishment of a state-of-the-art diagnostic centre to tackle over 3,000 ailments and conditions, the Kwara State Government is set to change the face of healthcare in Nigeria. Hammed Shittu writes

Health is wealth so says an adage. That is the reason every level of government has been working round the clock to ensure that healthcare delivery remains its major focal point.

In view of this, the hands of every arm of government must be on deck in order to add value to the social well-being of the governed. No wonder, each level of government sets aside a large per cent of its annual budget to meet the needs of the people in its bid to bring healthcare delivery to the doorsteps of the populace. All these moves hitherto were to meet the world’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In Kwara State, the objectives are not different, as the present administration under the leadership of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed has been doing well in its quest to improve the healthcare delivery of the populace by reducing infant mortality and enhancing the good health status of the common man in the state.

It will be noted here that, the administration which is built on the legacy of continuity laid down by the immediate past administration of Governor Bukola Saraki, now Senate President, had succeeded in bringing healthcare delivery to the doorsteps of the people through provision of drugs, recruitment of qualified medical personnel, renovating majority of existing medical centres among others in all the three senatorial districts of the state.

Apart from these, in the past nine years now, the state has become the first to start community-based health insurance scheme in Nigeria. The scheme which kicked-off in Shonga in Edu Local Government Area of the state had expanded its coverage from Shonga in Kwara North senatorial to Kwara Central senatorial to Kwara South senatorial district of the state with the payment of just N500 to enjoy the healthcare scheme. Apart from committing several millions of naira to upgrade all the state-owned General Hospitals located in Offa, Share, Omu-Aran, Ilorin and Kaima to effectively meet the healthcare of the people of the affected areas.

However, in order to ensure the efficient and effective healthcare delivery to the people of the state and other parts of the country, the administration put up the construction of a multi billion naira Harmony Advanced Diagnostic Centre located in Ilorin, so as to assist patients to conduct some tests in order to diagnose and get information on the various kinds of aliments that may be affecting them.

The project was financed from the bond raised by the administration of former governor, Saraki, so as curtail medical tourism and to determine the kind of ailments that are affecting them. It is globally recognised that accurate and prompt diagnosis of ailment is the foundation for effective medical care. Several lives have been lost over the years due to inaccurate or incomplete medical diagnosis in Nigeria. The consequence of this ugly situation had led to the spending of over N300 billion by Nigerians annually abroad in search of reliable medical diagnosis and treatment.

Painstakingly planned and implemented, the Harmony Advanced Diagnostic Centre is divided into two major departments; the Imaging and the Laboratory Services Departments. Both are fitted with state-of-the-art equipment to run diagnosis in over three thousand ailments and conditions.

Amongst several others, the Imaging Department will provide CT and MRI Scans, Fluoroscopy, mammography and other X-Ray and scanning services with the most up-to-date equipments including 3D Magnetic Resonance Image Module, Ultrasound Scan, ECG, Mammographs, fluoroscopes, 16-slide and 64 slide CT scan amongst others powered and sustained by dedicated Uninterrupted Power supply Units.

The laboratory services department, which includes haematology analyser, automated coagulation analyser, the COBAS 4000 Analyser used for serum chemistry and immunoassay in the immunology laboratory amongst others have the ability to deliver world class services.

The centre is also automated and customers can register for services online, receive their results in zero down time, while the microbiology unit has the automated culture system, modified fuchs Rosenthal Counting Chamber, Class 1 Biological System and Polymerase Chain Reaction techniques and equipments.

It is also important to mention that the centre has a number of partners across the world, who collaborate with it to confirm the results of tests and diagnosis with a view to reducing human error to the barest minimum. The centre also boasts of an admixture of Nigerians and expatriates with expertise in various fields of medical diagnosis. This has subsequently attracted some of the best brains especially indigenous experts from across the globe.

It would be further noted here that, the project was started by former governor Saraki but was completed by the incumbent governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed and since its completion and inauguration by the former Vice-President, Namadi Sambo in 2013 in Ilorin, the centre has been waxing stronger, providing efficient healthcare delivery to the people of the state and beyond.

However, a visit of our correspondent to the centre recently revealed that, the centre is functioning well as people have been patronising it.

Those who spoke with our correspondent lauded the state government’s gesture of establishing the centre.

They said the centre has helped them have access to medical attention through the determination of their health-related problems at affordable cost rather than travelling abroad.

Also speaking with our correspondent, Acting Managing Director of the centre, Dr. Bunmi Jetawo-Winters, a trained Pharmacist, said despite the centre’s sophistication in terms of equipment and personnel, Nigeria still lags behind in the area of diagnosis.

She said the centre was poised to be a centre of excellence in the North-central in the next two years. The centre began operations in 2014 and since then it has positioned itself as one of the leading diagnostic centres in Kwara, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo Kogi, Benue and Niger States.

“Harmony Advanced Diagnostic Centre’s mission statement is ‘to ensure the consistent provision of comprehensive diagnostic and allied healthcare services and to remain a centre of excellence for high quality services for all’”.

She stated further that “we do not have enough diagnostic centres in Nigeria. We also have few laboratories that carry out expansive tests in the country, considering Nigeria’s population. That is not too good.”

Jetawo-Winters, who doubles as the Director General, Kwara State Hospitals Management Bureau, said that the centre was not out to carry empirical treatment on patients, but rather it does investigations on patients to get to the proper target of the problems.

She added that HADC is interfacing with teaching hospitals in the state and neighbouring states, saying that “we have highly sophisticated equipment not readily available in other states of the federation.”

The diagnostic centre is not without some challenges, she insisted. “We have multi-faceted problems. Just like in any other parts of the country, power supply is one of the problems.

“No enough biomedical engineers. There is a big gap in that respect. We need a lot more training for available bio-medical engineers. Universities in the country should be encouraged to identify the gap.”

The managing director used the avenue to debunk rumour in town that Senate President, Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed have majority shares in the centre.

She said the centre “is 100 per cent and wholly owned by the Kwara State Government, but it is being run like a private concern.”

She also enjoined government at all levels to encourage and promote the health sector for the wellness and well-being of the society.

Conducting reporters round the laboratory section, the Laboratory Manager, Chukwukelu Jason, said that the state government had invested multi-billion naira in the centre.

Jason encouraged Nigerians to carry out annual general medical check-up of the system, adding that the lab department also comprises different sections.

He revealed that their operation is not posing any danger to the environment, saying that “we incinerate waste products at high temperature before disposing them off.”