By Harris Emanuel
Since 1999, successive administration in Akwa Ibom State has introduced new healthcare policies and ensured massive renovation of dilapidated infrastructures and building of new ones as well as provided modern equipment and employment of health personnel, as part of efforts to boost health care delivery in the state.
The Obong Victor Attah-led administration, in 1999, upgraded and expanded health institutions and also established three new secondary health facilities strategically located where none existed in the three senatorial districts of the state.
The hospitals were located at Ikpe Ikot Nkon in Ini; Amamong in Okobo; and Ukpom in Abak. This happened as general hospitals in Mbioto 2 in Etinan and Urueoffong/Oruko local government areas, which were hitherto left to rot, among others, were spruced up to bring health care delivery closer to the people.
Besides, the administration equally implemented several health programmes at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels for the people of the state even as no fewer than 24 medical doctors, 18 medical laboratory technicians, 17 pharmacists, four health records technologists and two radiographers were employed to improve healthcare delivery services.
In 2007, when Obong Godswill Obot Akpabio took the baton of leadership, he followed suit by constructing a world-class hospital at Itam christened 20th Anniversary Hospital to commemorate the 20th anniversary of state’s creation in 2007, which is now known as Ibom Multi-Specialty Hospital.
Governor Akpabio established cottage hospitals in Ukana Ikot Ntuen, Ika, Ibeno and Ukanafun local government areas, in a bid to expand health facilities and equally renovated and provided modern equipment to general hospitals, including General Hospital, Iquita in Oron, Immanuel General Hospital, Eket and General Hospital, Ikot Ekpene.
Available records indicate that during the outbreak of diseases in the country, such as Ebola virus, the government trained many health personnel to checkmate the spread of the disease in the state and also acquired equipment for its detection, just as health personnel were placed on surveillance in the 31 local government areas of the state.
It also on record that the administration left indelible mark in the fight against malaria by acquiring drugs, Long Lasting Insecticides Treated Nets (LLITNs), training programme for members of staff on malaria prevention and treatment, especially on the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) for malaria test before treatment, while various incentives were given to medical doctors and other health workers in the government employ, including official cars, in addition to the implementation of various health policies and programmes.
Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, who took over the reins of governance in 2015, has brought a new phase of healthcare delivery in the oil-rich state.
The governor has introduced a new and digital phase to healthcare delivery in the state in line with international standards. The primary, secondary and tertiary health institutions have been expanded and updated for effective healthcare services to the people.
For instance, he re-modelled several general hospitals in the state as part of efforts to reposition secondary healthcare. These include the building of a new 300-bed gynaecology block with modern equipment, named after Dr. Ann Ward, an Irish female gynaecologist and Reverend Sister who served in St Luke’s Hospital, Anua in Uyo.
Emmanuel has also inaugurated two health institutions in Oruk Anam Local Government Area. The ones in Oron, Uruan, Eket, Etinan local government areas were also re-modelled with modern facilities.
Many health professionals have been engaged by the state government to man these facilities.
The administration has also facilitated various partnerships in healthcare delivery with international organisations, donor agencies and corporate bodies.