In Yobe, Health is Wealth

In Yobe, Health is Wealth

Although Yobe State is the not among the states with top economies in Nigeria, it has however made the healthcare of its citizens paramount and may in no distant future start reaping the benefits in better economy, Michael Olugbode reports

Without health, a man may make no relative contribution to the community. There is no doubt that the economy and development of any society or nation can only be propelled by healthy citizens, no wonder the popular maxim: “health is wealth”. 

Perhaps this is what informed the decision of Yobe State Governor, Hon. Mai Mala Buni to give top priority to improving healthcare of the people of the state.

The governor in his inaugural address on May 29, 2019 unveiled a healthcare development programme of establishing one functional Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) in each of the 178 political wards across the state to bring healthcare delivery to the doorsteps of the people.

 As at last count, 140 have been completed, equipped, commissioned, and put to use for the benefit of the people. Each of the PHC has an equipped laboratory, a labour room, a pharmacy stocked with medical consumables, male and female wards for admission of patients, and staff quarters for the accommodation of medical personnel posted to these facilities to ensure 24/7 services in the communities.

For the border communities of Bulatura, in Yusufari Local Government area,. Gumsi, in Yusufari Local Government Area, Dole Machina and Taganama in Machina Local Government Area and Ma’anna, in Geidam Local Government area, it is also a new dawn.

 The establishment of the functional PHCs had saved them the stress of traveling across the border to towns in Niger Republic to access healthcare services, which to them is like breaking what is seen as a curse.

And to further take healthcare delivery to the next level in Yobe State, the Buni administration upgraded four General Hospitals to Specialists Hospitals, and eight PHCs to General Hospitals, with all the necessary equipment and facilities befitting of Specialist, and General Hospitals thereby boosting the secondary healthcare delivery and bringing healthcare services much closer to the people of the state.

Buni in fact worried by the distasteful and avoidable record of high maternal and child mortality in the state, constructed the ambitious 375-bed capacity Maternity and Child care health complex, perhaps Nigeria’s largest maternity and child care clinic, the structure is made up of seven blocks of one storey complex with patient-friendly spaces in accordance with the global best practice in modern maternal, newborn and paediatric health care as obtained in advanced countries. 

The health facilities, which architectural masterpiece would satisfactorily take care of expectant/nursing mothers, their newborn babies as well as children in general. The obstetrics and gynaecology wing of the complex has 64 open cubicles, five call duty rooms, five satellite pharmacies, one side laboratory and four nurses’ stations. 

The Special Baby Care Unit (SCBU) has three adjoining generously spacious and nicely done wards that is 28 baby cots wards for newborn babies suspected of sepsis, 10 newborn cots wards for out-born babies, and 10 newborn baby cots wards for In-born babies, four nurses’ stations, 10-bedspace room/unit for their nursing mothers.

In addition, there is a 10-bed space room for nursing mothers to breastfeed their newborn babies, five doctor’s rest/call duty rooms, five nurses’ rest/change rooms, five offices for the unit matron in charge, four additional offices for health information

management/documentation, seminar room, a library, kitchen and stores.

The Labour ward and obstetrics theatre units have four operation suites (including attached sterilisation and scrubbing area, six recovery rooms, additional offices for anesthetics perioperative nurses, other theatre support staff, male and female change rooms, common room for staff on duty, seminar and computer rooms.

The paediatric medical ward has 40 cubicles, four call rooms, four side labs and a satellite pharmacy.

Similarly, the Emergency Paediatrics Unit has 32 bed space cubicles (including a resuscitation cubicle), two doctor’s call duty room, a side laboratory, nurses’ station, change room, satellite pharmacy and eight staff offices.

The government provided 80 customised tricycle ambulances to health facilities in areas with difficult terrain to convey expectant mothers and sick persons to the headrest health centers.

It also re-stablished Yobe State Emergency Medical Ambulance Service and Yobe State Healthcare and Health-Related Facilities Inspection and Monitoring Agency to add value the the holistic approach to healthcare delivery in matters relating to domestic and road traffic accidents and monitoring of healthcare facilities to provide the best standard practice.

The Emergency Medical Ambulance service provides the opportunity for first aid treatment to victims from the scene of accidents before reaching medical facilities while the Health Facility Inspection and Monitoring Agency empowers health authorities in the state to inspect and monitor services provided by all medical facilities in the state to eliminate substandard services and cutting corners in medical services to ensure healthcare delivery is not compromised at any level in the state.

Following the governor’s policy of providing standard and functional health facilities at all levels, state-of-the-art equipment have been installed at the centre to provide the necessary healthcare services to mother and child, to curb the menace of maternal and child mortality in the state.

During the commissioning of the complex in January 2023, former President Muhammadu Buhari, said the complex can provide maternity and child care services to all the states in the North Eastern Sub-region. 

This position was further corroborated by the United Nations Resident Representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Yahya, who led a high-powered delegation to the state recently.

Mohamed said: “The investment in the health sector is pretty impressive and Yobe state is back on the path of development after the devastation by the insurgency. We are quite impressed with the potential of the facilities dealing with maternal and child healthcare challenges”.

To meet the manpower needs of the facilities, the state-owned College of Nursing and Midwifery Damaturu,  produced about 1,200 nurses, midwives and community midwives who were given automatic employment to provide quality medical services to the people.

With all these in place, there is no doubt that the reforms introduced in healthcare delivery by the Buni administration are achieving very positive results. 

It has ensured sustainability of providing affordable and accessible healthcare delivery to the people of Yobe state. It is obvious that the Contributory Healthcare Programme of the state is performing creditably well and has earned Yobe state the first position in securing 100 percent implementation in the Northeast sub-region.

The State Contributory Healthcare Scheme, established four years ago, has provided effective and efficient healthcare Impressed with the programme, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a prize of N30 Million to Yobe State government for being the best performing state in the Northeast sub-region.

 The award provided YOCHMA with an opportunity to enroll civil servants and vulnerable persons into the programme to have access to effective and efficient medical services.

The state-of-the-art machines upgraded at the state-owned Teaching Hospital have continued to attract patients from neighbouring and far states on medical tourism to Yobe State as confessed by Malam Adamu, a retired Permanent Secretary in Bauchi state whose son was referred to Egypt for surgery but was advised by his neighbour to go to Yobe State which he heeded and had a successful surgery at a cost far less than the cost of the flight ticket from Nigeria to Egypt.

Similarly, Yobe State state government has distinguished itself as next to none with an exemplary record of free dialysis treatment for kidney patients in the state. This has attracted patients from other parts of the country, enjoying the free dialysis treatment.

The governor is not rest on his oars for last year he took the fight against kidney disease to the United Kingdom to partner with reputable Research institutes with renowned researchers to establish the causative agents of Kidney disease on the banks of river Yobe.

The Governor in a meeting with renowned Epidemiologists, said the state lost many people living on the banks of river Yobe to Kidney failure, and many more, now patients of the disease.

“The figure of people dying and others as patients is very worrisome and that calls for quick action to save the communities. I am equally worried that a large number of the productive population are getting more affected” he said, adding that: ‘I am optimistic that you would partner with us to find a solution to the disease to save our people and others in the neighbouring states also lined up along the banks of the river” 

The collaboration though still in the tunnel, but may be actualised soon enough going assurances of Prof. Neil Peace, the internationally celebrated Professor of Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene, and Prof. Ben Caplin, a professor of Nephrology at the University College London, who specialises in population-based clinical and laboratory studies said, it is important to establish the causes of the disease. 

Caplin in fact commended Buni for his interest in finding a solution to this problem facing the communities, but added that: ‘The only solution to this problem is to find out the possible causes and mitigate the causes as a solution to the disease to save this population and indeed the future generation”.

The commendation of Yobe state government on healthcare delivery by the Katsina state Governor, Dr. Dikko Radda, in a recent BBC Hausa service programme, is a testament to the giant strides in healthcare development by the Buni administration in Yobe state.

Definitely Buni is making waves in the healthcare sector in Yobe State and  hopefully other governors are taking a leaf.

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