For LUTH, Its Six Decades of Healthcare Delivery, Viable Partnerships

Rebecca Ejifoma reports that amongst other monumental feats in providing Lagosians and Nigerians excellent and quality healthcare services, to commemorate its six decades of healthcare delivery, the Lagos University Teaching Hospital recently inaugurated a 30-bed intensive care unit and other critical care facilities. The cherry on the pie was the commendation from the federal government on the work done so far

Since its establishment in 1962, the Lagos University Teaching Hospital has continued to grow in leaps and bounds. This is because it has remained resolute in its drive as a  foremost tertiary hospital to provide excellent services of international standard in patient care, training and research among others.

And on Friday, December 16, the teaching hospital revved up its services with the commissioning of the critical care facilities. They include a 30-bedded Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Neonatal Intensive Unit (NICU), Paediatric Intensive Unit (PICU), Labour Ward and the 60-bedded Alima Atta Oncology Centre.

Speaking at the unveiling, the Minister of State for Health, Joseph Ekumankama acknowledged that LUTH has since been making steady progress in upgrading its facilities for cancer care, especially in Radiotherapy.

He emphasised that although the road had sometimes been rough, it has finally grown this aspect of cancer therapy to an enviable level through the partnership arrangement with the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, which enabled the hospital to offer state-of-the-art radiotherapy services to the nation. 

Represented by the Director and Senior Technical Assistant to the Minister of State for Health, Dr David Atuwo, the minister outlined the phenomenal track record of the hospital in various areas of medical practice over the years. “I must say that other aspects of cancer care have also improved as well, with the help of various programmes of the government, corporate bodies and well-meaning members of the public.” 

Ekunmakama noted that LUTH’s role in the fight against the Covid-19 virus pandemic would not be forgotten in a hurry. He said the role of LUTH as a referral centre and first responder showed its resilience as a centre of excellence and the people of Lagos and indeed the nation would be forever grateful. “The commissioning of these projects has shown the hard work of the Board of Management, management and staff or LUTH over the years.” 

Addressing the current trend of mass migration by skilled personnel thus affecting the health sector in the country, the minister shared their plight. “I know that LUTH and other tertiary health institutions are facing an acute shortage of doctors, nurses and other health professionals due to the ‘JAPA’ syndrome as it is locally called now. This is adversely affecting services in our hospitals, to the extent that some wards are closed for lack of personnel to man them,” he chipped in.

He, however, assured the health practitioners that the Federal Ministry of Health together with other government agents including the office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation is working immensely hard to ensure that existing staff is replaced as soon and seamlessly as possible. 

Ekumankuma is not oblivious to the brain drain the healthcare sector is being plagued with. Thus, he reminded Nigerians that no government can eradicate the challenge across all professions. “We can make it beneficial to us. The ministry is also working on a brain gain mechanism whereby our health professionals in the diaspora can be incentivised to come home and give paid expert service to our citizens. This is a win-win situation for Nation and our experienced medical professionals in the diaspora”.

He, therefore, appreciated the board of management led by Dan Masanin Mubi and former Head of Service, Isa Bello Sali and the top management and staff of LUTH for “the impactful projects. The nation appreciates your efforts. This is as he implored to do more to sustain these achievements.

The Chief Medical Director, of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode echoed the minister of state for health when he highlighted that LUTH has grown with the city of Lagos, contributing its quota to national aspirations through service, training and research. “We, in LUTH, saw opportunities in several recent challenges we have had to confront, turning them into achievements for the hospital,” he emphasised. 

Notwithstanding, Bode maintained that for years LUTH had shortages of ICU beds for critical care. He continued that although their ICU services were the cheapest in the state, LUTH was sadly oversubscribed and sometimes had to turn needy patients away to seek care elsewhere, sadly at a cost five to 10 times higher than what they charge.

He added that the newly completed modern, well-equipped ICU would surely put a stop to this. “It was built and equipped at a cost of N800m and is the largest and most well-equipped in West Africa. The LUTH Labor Ward/ New Neonatal Unit Building abandoned six years ago was fully rehabilitated and expanded. 

“If we must operate professionally the newly commissioned facilities, there is a need for employment of 230 nurses and an additional s 60 doctors, 15 of whom should be consultants,” the CMD appealed to the federal government. 

Accordingly, Bode conceded that Mrs Iyabo Attah built and equipped the 60-bed Alima Atta Oncology Centre for LUTH in memory of her daughter Alima Atta who died of cancer of the Lymph Nodes over seven years ago and as a hope for refuge for cancer patients.

Among the personalities present at the launching was the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan. In her remarks, she conceded that the quality of healthcare delivery is largely determined by the material and human resources of any society. She listed: “Providing equitable access to health care for every Nigerian is an integral part of this Government’s agenda. To further demonstrate its commitment to the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the country, the improvement of health, education and productivity of Nigerians is captured in the nine priority areas of this administration.”

While the federal government continues to make pragmatic efforts towards providing 

 efficient healthcare system for the nation, LUTH has taken a lead to put in place bespoke facilities for the benefit and well-being of the nation. 

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