By Goke Akinrogunde
My trip to Maiduguri, Bornu State, North-east mid- December 2019 was a case of severally rescheduled trip that was not to be over the last seven years since the idea was first mooted sometimes in the year 2012.
This idea of a “working visit” to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), Maiduguri, came aftermath of an edition of my then weekly column (Health Matters) in THISDAY. I had written on the rare feat of intervention radiological procedures (as alternative to major surgeries) performed at UMTH and pioneered by an Interventional Radiologist at the Hospital, Dr Ahmadu Ahidjo, the then Head of Radiology Department at the hospital. Thus the intention was to go to Maiduguri and witness the live procedures done.
Unfortunately the intended 2012 journey could not to be for many reasons; chiefly among these was the fact that no sooner that the arrangement for the visit was consummated that Bornu State was locked-down by the military authorities – end of preparation.
The Target: 1200 plus beds and more at UMTH
Fast-forward, October 2019. I ran into Professor Ahidjo at the Medic West Africa – the biggest Medical Exhibition in the West Africa sub-region. Ahidjo has now been appointed the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital in August 2018, just before then he was Provost, College of Medicine, University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID). Naturally, the idea of working visit to Maiduguri request came up but now primarily to witness and assess the infrastructural development on-going at the Teaching Hospital.
The convergence of this development, I was told, is to transform UMTH to become the biggest health facility with the largest amount of hospital beds in Nigeria, and by extension, West Africa. At present, UMTH has some 600 beds and according to the CMD, by the end of the present phase of infrastructural development (before 2020 ends) a little over 600 beds would be added, taking the total beds in hospital to over 1200 beds. That is a record in the making above the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, which presently seat at the top in Nigeria with close to 1000 beds at the moment.
In ruin; There is Architecture
Notwithstanding the ruins occasioned by insurgency in Bornu, UMTH, on 10 December 2019, the first day of my visit, had numerous construction works going on in the hospital. These include architectural edifices – the new Trauma Center, the Burns Center, and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) General Out-patient Building, all near-completion and adjoining the periphery fence by the hospital’s main gate. Also there were construction works going on the buildings adjacent and opposite the hospital’s administrative block; these are the new Institute of Child Health and the Physical Rehabilitation Centre Buildings respectively.
Driving round the hospital complex was through the ongoing internal roads construction, some 2.7 kilometers, being executed directly, at no cost to the hospital, by Federal Ministry of Works; this is first time internal roads are been constructed since the hospital was commissioned by 2nd republic president, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, July 1983, 36 years ago.
Further assessed were ongoing construction works at the new Brachytherapy Center (for cancer treatment), the new hostel block of the School of Nursing, UMTH and newly constructed accommodation block that housed the Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC) and the Deputy CMAC (clinical).
Aside the aforementioned construction works; there was on-site assessment of five 500kva electrical diesel generators attached to the water treatment plant and the newly constructed four Aquifer Bore Holes. Other new generators also functions as part of the effort to maintain 24 hours power supply to the hospital vital centers: operating theatre, kidney center, Intensive Care Unit (ICU), oxygen generating plant, high dependent unit, Accident and Emergency, Radiology Center and the Mortuary.
These are commendable marks for Prof Ahidjo-led management team in less than 18 months of the appointment as the CMD UMTH. It is indeed an attestation of a thorough selection process for the office carried out by the Hadi Okashatu-led Board of UMTH, who conducted the process that produced the new CMD of UMTH in August 2018.
Where Does the Funds Come From
As to how all the aforementioned projects are getting done in such a synchronised manner, wondering where the funds are coming from; knowing that this is way off the hospital’s budgetary allocations for capital projects. On this, Ahidjo made references to the support and encouragement from the Hadi Okashatu-led Hospital Board and “the power of advocacy at other levels”; a case of thinking out of the box.
And without his mentioning, I should add that it is also a case of using what you have to get what you need and converting a disadvantaged situation to an advantageous position. In other words, it is a case of leveraging on the sympathy elicited from the reality of the insurgency-caused ruins of the north east, especially of Bornu, to create an infrastructural revolution in the largest hospital in Northeast Nigeria.
Trauma Center with Roof Top Helipad
The four floor mega-trauma center building is an exception to the usual; an advocacy-yield specially-funded edifice. If completed and commission hopefully by the end of the 1st quarter of 2020, it will have multiple operating theatres for immediate surgical intervention for trauma cases; radiology suites for ultrasound, X-ray, CT-scan etc; patients wards; consulting rooms and mini-laboratory. To cap it up, situated on the roof is the fortified Helipad segment for patients-conveying helicopter to land, where an adjoining elevator would convey the trauma patients to the lower floors for onward transfer to the theatres and the wards. Simply put, the trauma centre is envisaged as a ‘hospital within the hospital’, where all the required for effective treatment of trauma patients are available as a one-stop centre. The new trauma complex would add 150 new beds to the hospitals pool of beds.
The burns centre was 60 per cent completed during the visit and is a direct project of the North East Commission. It is sited just beside the Trauma Centre and is conceived to cater exclusively for burns patients. It is projected to be equipped with modern theatre and other ancillaries for plastic surgeries and related treatment of burns. At completion, it would add 70 new beds to the present hospital bed pool.
University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital is the health provider for some 22,000 enrolees on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) list. The reality of such a huge number of enrolees (still growing) and the pressure it puts on the existing general out-patient department (GOPD) gave rise to the idea of a separate GOPD for NHIS patients to fast track the services the hospital render to this category of patients. The 3-floor building with multiple consulting rooms, adjoining lounges and observatories would certainly shelve a lot of weight off the ‘main’ GOPD department.
Institute of Child Health
The institute of Child Health building is a three floor massive structure to house everything about child health: consulting rooms, children wards, neonatal section, consultant offices, lecture room, residents’ lounge, research laboratories etc. It is a bold move to expand the hospital paediatric beds from 64 beds (same since the hospital was commissioned) to 150 beds when the project is completed later in the year.
Physical Rehabilitation Center – ICRC Project and others
The N1.3 billion physical rehabilitation centre being built and to be equipped by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is situated by the hospital’s physiotherapy department; at completion later in the year, it will expand the physiotherapy, physical rehabilitation and occupational therapy capacity of the teaching hospital tremendously. It would also add a whopping 100 beds to the hospital’s beds pool.
Also in the collective of giant strides ongoing in UMTH is the Stroke Center designed for modern management of stroke patients – from primary phase of care to tertiary phase of stroke and related ailments care. At completion the stroke center would add another 150 beds to the hospital’s total.
In the same vein, other wholesome contribution to the hospital’s expansion project are the revived Kidney Center and the Drug Rehabilitation Center which when completed will add 100 beds and 70 beds respectively to the hospital’s pool to bring the total amount to 1,200 plus beds, over 100 per cent increase to the existing capacity.
This coordinated integrated hospital patients capacity expansion project, ongoing at University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital under the Prof Ahidjo-led management, is clearly awesome and it is one’s hope that it gets to fruition, get well maintained and raise the bar of centre of excellence for patients’ care, catering for the present generation and those yet unborn.
And the verdict
From the Board members, management team, staff unions and students: so far, Prof Ahmadu Ahidjo has not disappointed.