By Chioma Obinna & Emmanuel Ebeleke
IT is a fact that at least 50 per cent of Nigerians live on less than one dollar a day – a developmentÂ Â emphasised by the quite poor critical health indicators such as maternal and infant mortality.
Recent reports from the United Nations Childrenâ€™s Fund (UNICEF) also have it that Nigerian children are amongst the most malnourished on earth.
With poor medical infrastructure, collapsing or collapsed facilities, staff shortages amongst other challenges, many hospitals are not equipped to handle the growing medical needs of the population, and medical professionals are jetting out in search of greener pasture.
But this may be set to change in the short term if recent developments in the Nigerian health industry are anything to go by.
For one,Â critical observers of the health sector are of the view that a wave of new investment on hospitals and clinics will relieve the burden on public health systems and dramatically reshape the sector, especially in underdeveloped countries like Nigeria.
Today, most governmentsâ€™ new health initiatives have been focused on primary care, particularly in rural areas and tertiary institutions with state -of- the- art equipment.
To ensure that more low-income Nigerian families have access in terms of reach and affordability to good medical care, the Delta State government is bracing up for challenges of pioneering the delivery of world class services to Nigerians, even for political office holders seeking medical treatment abroad.
The expectation now is that as from the second quarter of 2010, no Delta indigene and Nigeria in general, will have cause to go abroad for medical needs following the completion of the multi- million,Â world-class Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH)Â is completed early next year.
In a chat with Good Health Weekly during a media tour of the new hospitalÂ currently under construction, the Chief Medical Director, Dr. Seyi Oyesola said the health institution would fill the gap in demand for high-quality, affordable health care in Nigeria.
By providing medical services locally, the hospital will benefit people who usually go abroad for treatment, helping stem the outflow of foreign exchange and reduce travel costs for patients and their families.
He said the training center, will provide services in family medicine, cardiology, dermatology, laboratory, and pharmacy. It will also help address the countryâ€™s problem of brain drains by providing training to medical students, healthcare delivery for women and children.
OyesolaÂ explained that the government recognises the need to develop modern and efficient health care delivery.
â€œI have a rare pride presenting this hospital as a great hospital built and equipped with a very high hospital. DELSUTH is now set to pioneer world class services in healthcare delivery as never before in Nigeria, in accordance with the world best practices and modern equipment.
To become a leading health institution in quality healthcare delivery in Nigeria, he disclosed that the State government had taken up the challenge of procuring state-of-the-art equipment to justify its objective of becoming No.1 in the sub-region in terms of major healthcare services.
At 95 per cent completion, the facility is to be formallyÂ commissioned early in 2010. Equipment already installedÂ include ultra sound scanners, three and four dimensional CD scanner (fully computerized), 64-slide imaging scanner machine, full digital radiology studio and latest operating theater build on high resolution cameras, mammograph, MRI, Gas plant for oxygen storage,Â autopaedic machinesÂ and accident and emergency units facilities among others. All with high resolutions.
With all these in place, procedures such as organ transplantation can be carried out there with an organ donor base under construction.
Only recently, DELSUTH which obtained accreditation of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), strengthened its staff profile. The medical institution is not short of staff in any of the specialties.
Amongst those newly signed on are four endoscopists. This is complemented by the bevy of world class professionalsÂ chosen from different parts of the world. The idea, Oyesola noted, was not just to have a high standard ofÂ personnelÂ in the hospital, but to prioritise continuity and full scale skill transfer in the country.
â€œVirtually all key departments are led by people with over 15 years of experience in various segments of the profession. The vision is to send people abroad to excel there and come back and transfer the skill to people back home. We have come to realise thatÂ people are traveling abroad for treatments because of lack of modern equipments here in Nigeria, which DELSUTH has come to address.
This is so because, on assumption of office, the Governor decided to build a world class referral hospital, fully equipped with modern technologies and to be manned by best brains around the world, particularly those who have paid their dues in the medical practice over many years within and outside the country.â€ he said.
With high definition modern technologies in every department, full operation has commenced with significant number of personnel workingÂ in all departments.
Provision has been made to accommodate indigent people in line with the Delta State governmentâ€™s policy on free maternal and child medicare.
OyesolaÂ announced plans by the hospital management to establish the firstÂ paramedical and ambulance services in the state, saying that the full training of the staff had already commenced.