By Emmanuel Ikechukwu-Jonathan, JP
In keeping with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) demand for governments across the world to ensure that people are not denied access to health services they need simply because they cannot afford or access such services, the government of Enugu state under the able leadership of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has fulfilled the requirements for the takeoff of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund in addition to payment of the mandatory N100m counterpart fund that will enable the people of the state benefit from healthcare services under the Universal Health Coverage of WHO.
The state government also recently repositioned Enugu State Primary Healthcare Development Agency and the newly constituted Enugu State Agency for Universal Health Coverage as enshrined in the state’s newly enacted Enugu State Health Law. These and many other programmes are bold steps being carried out by this administration to ensure the attainment of the Universal Health Coverage Goals alongside other health related Sustainable Development Goals.
According to the WHO, Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is a programme which enables all people and communities to use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship. The prompt implementation of this noble and people oriented programme of the WHO in Enugu state by the Gov Ugwuanyi’s administration ahead of many states in the country, is a further pointer to the fact that the administration places health top in its priorities.
To further strengthen the UHC programme for efficiency and effectiveness across the state, the administration has also upgraded some of the hitherto District Hospitals and Clinics to full-fledged general hospitals bringing the number to 7 General Hospitals situated across the state. The hospitals will be saddled with responsibilities of providing qualitative and affordable secondary healthcare services to the people of the state, in addition to the 43 Cottage Hospitals and about 390 public Primary Healthcare facilities that provides related medical services at the rural areas.
In line with this development also, work has been completed and ready for commissioning at Nsukka, Agbani, Enugu-Ezike General Hospitals respectively as additional Structures were constructed/reconstructed and Hospital Equipment procured in these hospitals to enhance medical care in that part of the state.
These hospitals except Nsukka General Hospital were hitherto District Hospitals but were graciously upgraded by the Gov Ugwuanyi’s administration for effective and efficient healthcare service delivery to Ndi-Enugu. This is no doubt a welcome development as the state government considered the strategic importance of the earlier District Hospitals and the much services they carry out, and decided to improve the facility’s clinical environment cum rebuilding of its capacity to secondary healthcare providers.
ESUT Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Enugu, which offers undergraduate clinical and post-graduate Residency training for doctors in addition to delivery of specialist care to the people, has not been left out as it has continued to receive the much needed government support and attention.
In line with this development also, the administration recently granted approval to ESUT Teaching Hospital Parklane to absorb 125 internship applicants in different fields of study and 102 Resident Doctors in addition, to continuous recruitment of Consultants in different medical fields, accreditation and provision of medical equipment to sustain the hospital’s capacity to a high tech tertiary health institutions.
To address the pain and issues of distance experienced by the people of Enugu North Senatorial District of the state while seeking tertiary health attention/services the state government is presently constructing a 200-bed Specialist Hospital at Igbo-Ano in Enugu North Senatorial District. The hospital when completed with other proposed infrastructural development in the site, will serve as facilities for the ESUT College of Medicine that has been relocated to Nsukka.
While inaugurating the upgraded Poly General Hospital, which was formerly known as Poly Clinic Asata, Gov. Ugwuanyi reassured Ndi-Enugu, of the state government’s commitment to fulfil its campaign promises in the health sector. He described the upgraded Poly General Hospital as, “indisputably the busiest General Hospital and second busiest healthcare facility in the state after the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Enugu”.
He also noted that the hospital’s status underscores its strategic importance and the state government’s decision to improve its status of providing qualitative secondary healthcare delivery to our teeming Enugu urban population.
According to him, “our recently rejigged Enugu State Primary Healthcare Development Agency and the newly constituted Enugu State Agency for Universal Health Coverage are strategic steps in this direction”.
Also at the inauguration of the reconstructed and equipped Udi General Hospital, Gov. Ugwuanyi said that it is the 4th busiest public secondary healthcare facility in the state and the only public secondary healthcare facility within the Udi/Ezeagu Federal Constituency of the state for more effective and efficient service delivery.
He pointed out that the recently completed cutting-edge Enugu Medical Diagnostic Centre will provide sophisticated medical diagnostic services to support best-in-class medical treatment, as soon as it is operational in a no distant time.
“Ndi Enugu, we have made these considered choices, which though are tough but desirable, knowing that they are the least you deserve and that the health of our people is the wealth of our people. It is our fervent expectation that our strategic efforts and investments in the state health sector will deliver the desired impact on the health of our people as they fully come on stream.
“We remain grateful for your prayers, support and solidarity. Our business in governance is to alleviate the sufferings of our people and this, we will pursue this dream relentlessly relying on your prayers and the abiding Grace of our most merciful God,” Gov. Ugwuanyi said.
Speaking on these developments, the State Administrator, Hospital Management Board, Dr. Okechukwu Ossai, expressed joy, gratitude to God and Gov. Ugwuanyi for the massive investments the current administration is making in the state’s health sector.
Dr. Ossai who observed with satisfaction that the governor has embarked on several transformational ventures in the health sector, added, “the investments made by the governor will benefit women, children, everybody in general even the yet unborn.
“Those who are alive today will live to give testimonies to these investments. Today, I thank His Excellency, the Governor and God Almighty that during my tenure as the Hospital Administrator in Enugu State, these hospitals are being transformed in to full-fledged General Hospitals”.
The Permanent Secretary, State Ministry of Health, Dr. Ifeanyi Agujiobi, reacting to this noble development, commended Gov. Ugwuanyi for his steadfastness and sheer dexterity in advancing the cause of good governance in the state especially in the health sector.
Dr. Agujiobi further said, “Since the governor assumed office, he has never relented in addressing issues in the health sector of Enugu State.
“His administration has put in place 3 brand new Primary Healthcare Centres at Abakpa, Oji and Obollo Afor, which are billed to be inaugurated soon, among other achievements.”
Speaking on behalf of their LGA’s over the upgraded of Poly Clinic to Poly General Hospital, Asata in Enugu North Local Government and Udi District Hospital to Udi General Hospital in Udi Local Government Area, the Chairmen of the Council Areas, Hon. Emma Onoh and Hon. Nestor Ochin also commended the governor for his huge investment in the health sector.
They also commended Gov Ugwuanyi’s untiring efforts to entrench peace and good governance in the state and reassured him of the people’s support and cooperation.
However, with these massive achievements in the health sector by the state government under the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi led administration, it is therefore pertinent that medical and health workers, put in their best to making good use of the health facilities provided for the benefits of the good people of the state.
This is because according to World Health Organization, millions of patients are harmed each year due to unsafe health care worldwide resulting in 2.6 million deaths annually in low-and middle-income countries alone. Most of these deaths are avoidable. The personal, social and economic impact of patient harm leads to losses of trillions of US dollars worldwide. The World Health Organization is said to be focusing global attention on the issue of patient safety and launching a campaign in solidarity with patients on the very first World Patient Safety Day on 17 September each year.
According to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, “No one should be harmed while receiving health care. And yet globally, at least 5 patients die every minute because of unsafe care,”
Now that Enugu state has a government that is keen with the provision of adequate medical facilities and equipment, we need a patient safety culture that promotes partnership with patients, encourages reporting and learning from errors, and creates a blame-free environment where health workers are empowered and trained to reduce errors.
These achievements of Governor Ugwuanyi in the health sector recently led to an ‘award of good governance’ in the health sector bestowed on him by the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu campus.
The award was presented to Gov. Ugwuanyi during the 1st Distinguished Alumni Lecture and Awards Day of the college, alongside other awardees on related accomplishments, they include the former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Dr. Chris Ngige, former Governor of old Enugu State, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, former Governor of Enugu State and Senator representing Enugu East Senatorial District, Senator Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, and Prince Engr. Arthur Eze.
The Provost of the College, Prof. Uchenna Nwagha, who commended the governor’s contributions in the health sector, disclosed that the award was conferred on Gov. Ugwuanyi for also “providing the enabling peaceful environment and good policies on Health and Medical Education in the state.
He added, “the ongoing rehabilitation of the old UNTH road” by Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration as well as assistance in the establishment of the research and diagnostic center UNTH, also informed the college’s decision to honour the governor.
Emmanuel Ikechukwu-Jonathan, JP writes from Alor-Agu in Igbo-Eze South LGA, Enugu State