Health Minister, Professor Christian Onyebuchi Chukwu, was in Bauchi State recently to inspect some of the health facilities available in the state. SALIU GBADAMOSI, who was on his entourage, reports.
THIS new specialist hospital, which I am told will have the capacity of 350 beds, is very magnificent. It shows visionary leadership; it shows that the governor has a great vision for the state. For someone to sit down and conceive this obviously it means the person is thinking of the future.”
Those were the words of the Minister of Health, Professor Christian Onyebuchi Chukwu, that summed up his impression about the new Bauchi State Specialist Hospital under construction in Bauchi. The construction site visit was followed by the handover of the old specialist hospital by the Bauchi State Government to the Federal Government to serve as the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH), Bauchi.
The minister was in Bauchi between Monday, 24 and Tuesday, 25 March, 2014, on a two-day visit which, according to him, was on the invitation of Governor Isa Yuguda to see what his administration had been doing in the health sector. The minister was also to attend the third Bauchi State Council of Health meeting, and have a pre-commissioning inspection of ATBUTH and to inspect projects President Goodluck Jonathan would soon inaugurate in Bauchi State.
Speaking about what he saw at the construction site of the specialist hospital, the minister said, “What I have seen here is quite impressive. It will complement all other health facilities that are within the town and within the state. So, it is very, very impressive.”
According to him, the Federal Government would assist the Bauchi State government depending on what the state government asked for. “I see in the future where the hospitals in Bauchi can even share some of the key specialist staff. There are areas we can collaborate depending on where the state government thinks the Federal Government can come in,” he said.
Before visiting the hospital site, the minister paid a courtesy call on Governor Yuguda at the Government House, Bauchi, where he signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on behalf of the Federal Government with the state government for the formal takeover of the Bauchi State-owned Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) Centre, Ningi.
The approval for the takeover of the VVF Centre, according to the minister, was given by President Jonathan in May, 2013, but with effect from this year. He also announced that the centre would now be known as National Obstetric and Fistula Centre, Ningi.
From Government House, the minister was at the palace of the Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu, where he acknowledged the prominent roles traditional rulers had been playing in the health sector, saying that Alhaji Adamu was one of such royal fathers.
While informing the emir of his mission in the state, the minister declared that Bauchi State was doing well in the health sector, adding that the Mallam Yuguda-led administration was making impact in the area of healthcare delivery, despite the influx of people from crisis-prone neighbouring states.
On his part, the royal father told the minister that healthcare delivery was an important determinant in promoting people’s wellbeing, saying that though the Federal Government and the Bauchi State government were trying their best in ensuring that people had access to good healthcare delivery, there was still the need to do more in the health sector.
The traditional ruler, who doubles as the chairman of the Bauchi State Council of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs, noted that good health was prerequisite to life and as such more needed to be done in the health sector, particularly in the rural areas. He expressed the hope that the minister’s visit to the state would facilitate efficient healthcare delivery, not only in Bauchi State, but also Nigeria as a whole.
“Healthcare delivery happens to be an important determinant of physical and mental health and general wellbeing of the people. We, therefore, acknowledge the government of the day for its tireless efforts in extending access to healthcare to our people.
“Despite efforts by the government in providing efficient healthcare to the people, more needs to be done to better the lot of the people, especially in our rural areas. Our hospitals need to be equipped and stocked with pharmaceutical products which should be accessible to all, especially our rural dwellers and the less privileged citizens,” the emir said.
From the palace, the minister proceeded to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH), which used to be the Bauchi State Specialist Hospital, before it was handed to the Federal Government to serve as a teaching hospital.
Professor Chukwu then went on to inaugurate and inspect some structures and facilities put up by the Dr Mohammed Alkali-led management of the hospital. These include the laboratory building, housing the chemical, histopathology and heamatology laboratories, and the eye clinic which the minister was told was the only centre in the North-East geo-political zone where laser treatment was being done for glaucoma treatment.
He also inaugurated the second phase of the administrative block of the hospital, and thereafter held a meeting with the members of the board of the hospital, led by the chairman, Major-General Suleiman Barau Said (rted), management and staff of the hospital.
On day two of his visit, the minister participated in the opening ceremony of the third Bauchi State Council on Health meeting, with the theme, “ Moving Bauchi State Health Sector: Now and beyond 2015”.
Speaking on the occasion, Professor Chukwu expressed delight that Bauchi State was the first state in the country to commence strategies for the implementation of the Declaration of the Presidential Summit on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which was held in Abuja on March 10, 2014, declaring that, “the antecedent of the Bauchi State government stands in good stead to be among the first states of the federation to achieve UHC.”
He commended Governor Yuguda for continuing to make health a priority in the state, saying that Bauchi State was among the few currently participating in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and was also among the first states to establish and activate their state primary health care board under the ‘primary healthcare one roof’ policy.
While congratulating the state government for convening its third state health council meeting, the minister stated that some states in the country were yet to convene theirs.
Speaking later at a joint press briefing with Governor Yuguda, the minister declared that the health sector in Bauchi State was doing well and remained well organised. He was particular about the government’s efforts in preventing mother and child death with the introduction of Misoprostol and Chlorhexidine with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Targeted States High Impact Project (TSHIP).
According to the minister, “this is something that I am happy is happening under the present administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. The National Council on Health based on the result of trials adopted the use of Misoprostol for the purpose of controlling primary postpartum haemorrahage. Postpartum haemorrage is the number one killer of women who get pregnant. When I came on board as minister, we did not include it on our essential drug list, but finally I used my power as minister to include it. That is how Nigeria became the first country in the world to include Misoprostol on its essential drug list even before WHO.
“Six to nine months after Nigeria did this, WHO introduced it. We know the benefit. Where you don’t have very highly trained gynecologists and obstetrician and highly trained midwives, but you have community health workers, they can use Misoprostol. It is given by mouth; it doesn’t require someone giving injection. It is very safe and cheap.”
On his part, Governor Yuguda expressed his government’s happiness over the minister’s visit, which he said afforded Professor Chukwu the opportunity to see what his administration had been doing in the health sector.
Speaking on efforts to prevent infant and maternal mortality in the state, Yuguda stated that his administration believed that women and children should not die unnecessarily, saying that government would not stop in ensuring safe motherhood.
He commended TSHIP for the introduction of Misoprostol and Chlorhexidine, with which he said mothers in the state would now experience safe delivery, adding that his administration spent N52 million to procure the drugs for use in the state.
Category: Bauchi State News