THE recent commissioning of Abia Specialist and Diagnostic Hospital, Umuahia, which was the first of its kind in the South East zone is already achieving its purpose with patients trooping down there to receive one renal treatment or the other.
A visitor to the hospital, situated along Aba Road, will not miss the beehive of activities within the hospital and its environs. This is a pointer that the project was well conceived by the Abia State government and actualised in partnership with a private organisation.
The establishment of the hospital is another milestone in the numerous achievements of the state government, especially in health sector that was hitherto in shambles.
Before now, such haemodialysis facilities are known to be few in Nigeria and almost absent in the South East zone. It was in 1981 that the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, established its own centre and it took more than a decade before the University College Teaching Hospital, UCH, Ibadan did the same. For Abia State University Hospital, ABSUTH, it was in 2013.
Today there are over 20 dialysis centres across Nigeria serving a population of over 160 million people. Most of the centres are concentrated in the South West with a handful of them in the South East.
Even then, the dialysis machines at the centres are grossly inadequate such that some patients who require haemodialysis treatment sometimes die on the waiting queue before it gets to their turn. Statistics show a global figure of 50 million persons suffering from renal disease annually. And here in Nigeria the figure is alarming as 37 million Nigerians are said to be battling with various stages of renal disease with 15,000 new cases annually.
It is also worrisome that records indicate that 3 to 8 per cent of medical admission is due to renal diseases with most of the cases reported as being among the poor in the society who cannot afford treatment abroad.
Today Abia Specialist and Diagnostic Hospital is gradually turning the state to a medical tourists destination. Inside the hospital are a total of seven machines. One of them serves as standby spare, another for HIV patients, while hepatitis patients have one to themselves. The remaining four are left for other patients to avoid complications which may result from contamination of blood.
In addition, the hospital offers a high variety of health package, never seen before, involving Bio-Chemical and radiological diagnostic investigations.
Also in the hospital is a mammography that can scan the female breast and detect cancer at the earliest stage. Computed Tomography, CT scan for short, is a medical technology that uses x-ray and computer to give three- dimensional images of the human body. Also available is the Magnetic Resonance Imaging, MRI, medical diagnostic technique that combines strong magnetic fields, radio waves and computer technology to create images of the body using the principles of nuclear magnetic resonance for total scanning.
With this feat, coupled with numerous others in the health sector, government has shown its total commitment to adequate healthcare delivery in state.
Not resting on its oars, the state government has made fund available for the establishment of an ophthalmology centre within the specialist hospital to cater for visually impaired patients. It has also commenced plans for the construction of 100-bed capacity hospitals in nine council areas of the state in addition to renovating general hospitals that need attention.
The state government has also equipped and up-graded one hospital in every senatorial zone into a referral hospital for specialist treatment and diagnosis. It has undertaken a massive re-equipping and modernisation of the Amachara General Hospital as the pilot hospital for Abia Central Senatorial Zone and the Abia State University Teaching Hospital Aba to serve the people of Abia South Senatorial Zone, while the Umunnato General Hospital is to serve as the Specialist Hospital for the Abia North Senatorial Zone.
These were not only done, they are functional and serving the purposes they were built for by the government. So one should not be surprised by the numerous awards so far conferred on the state governor by different health organisations.
Health staff members in the state are among the best paid in the country today. That is why they hardly go on strike as being witnessed in other states. With the remarkable giant strides of the state government in the sector, most private hospitals in the state which were then having field are facing low returns as patients prefer government hospitals that are well-equipped and affordable, courtesy of the state government’s quick intervention.
ROMANUS UWA, a medical doctor, wrote from Aba, Abia State.