By Salihu Tanko Yakasai
Experts have established a close nexus between the state of the mental and physical health of the people and their level of economic advancement and social well-being and even overall societal cohesion while the age-long adage irrefutably says health is wealth. It is in realization of this that the administration of His Excellency, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR in Kano State accords the health sector serious attention through infrastructural development, recruitment and training of manpower and provision of sophisticated equipment/furniture, drugs and other medical consumables for efficient, effective and affordable healthcare services to the teeming people of the State. In fact, no investment can be greater than the one directed to the health sector because it impacts directly on the lives of the people unlike some grandiose projects embarked by some for mere prestige or self-interest. Kano State, with its infant mortality and under-5 child mortality rates of 72 and 114 respectively per 1,000 live births, deserves to be given urgent attention and this is what our far-sighted governor, Dr. Ganduje has been preoccupied with since his assumption of office on 29th May, 2015.
Succinctly put, the Ganduje administration focuses attention on seven core areas in the health sector; namely: human resource for health, human resource development, recruitment of manpower, training of manpower, infrastructural development, supply of equipment to the primary, secondary and tertiary health facilities and accessibility of drugs and medical consumables.
One of his administration’s numerous and unprecedented achievements in the health sector is the completion of the inherited 250-bed Zoo Road Paediatric Hospital and 250-bed Giginyu Specialist Hospital renamed Muhammdu Buhari Specialist Hospital which were both commissioned by President Buhari during his recent 2-day official visit to the State.. The Paediatric Hospital is to serve both as a first-call and referral centre in child healthcare for over 240 primary health care centres and 10 other health centres in the State, which have been rehabilitated and upgraded.
On the other hand, Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital is an advanced tertiary medical centre, conceived both as health intervention and an economic investment. The ultra-modern health facility with its state-of-the art equipment/furniture is intended to spearhead the Federal Government’s initiative to check medical tourism embarked by some Nigerians in search of quality health care abroad. Basic and sophisticated pieces of equipment have been provided and bio-medical engineers have been trained to maintain them.
The new Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital at Giginyu in Nassarawa Local Government Area has Internal Medicine Department, General Surgery Department, Paediatric Department and Obstetrics, Gynaecology Department, Radiology Department and other departments. The operating theatre, which is the best in the country, is equipped with ultra-modern operating lamp fitted with internal circuit video camera which helps medics to monitor an operation in real-time, thus providing the opportunity for tele-surgery and kidney transplant will commence at Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital very soon.
The Radiology Department, which is also the best in the country, has digital x-ray, ultra-sound, mammography and other ultra-modern diagnostic digital machines which are useful for diagnosing and detecting different ailments. Advanced Computed Axial Topography Scanners or CT Scan machines have also been installed at the two specialist hospitals. The Ganduje administration also procured state-of-the-art Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine for the Specialist Hospital which is also the best of its kind in the country. This machine will provide the opportunity for the training of experts in radiology and Kano State will be the first in Northern Nigeria to begin post-graduate training in radiology early next year after all the necessary verification and accreditation by the relevant regulatory authorities.
The state-of-the-art Dialysis Unit and Intensive Care Unit at Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital with their high-technology medical machinery will care for patients with acute, life-threatening conditions. These units have the most advanced medical technology electronic monitoring, mechanical ventilation and other life-support measures combined with drugs and skilled nursing.
The Paediatric Hospital, Zoo Road is focused on the management of medical and surgical conditions of children. The hospital is equipped with an ultra-modern theatre where surgeries are performed. There is also the neonatal Intensive Care Unit where critically-ill children are given medical care as the unit has ventilators, phototherapy lamps, incubators and other hi-tech machinery to ensure adequate care of children.
The management of the two state-of-the-art hospitals is designed in such a way that a committee set up by Governor Ganduje will be advising government on the maintenance and upgrading of equipment to ensure that they are not grounded.
These two hospitals will indeed boost medical tourism within and from outside the country thereby boosting the economy of Kano State and the nation at large. The hospitals will become a Mecca of referral cases from all over Africa and this is made possible by the visionary leadership of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
The administration has also renovated and rehabilitated over 240 primary healthcare centres and upgraded scores of others to cottage hospitals and general hospitals to ensure that medical care is readily available in all the 44 local government areas of the State. This is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda on revitalising primary healthcare services. This is because, by revitalising primary healthcare services, secondary and tertiary hospitals are free and unburdened to battle rare diseases and those that need specialists’ attention.
As per the human resource angle, the administration recently employed 2,458 healthcare workers and 1,000 sanitation vanguards. This is because of the close relationship between healthcare and sanitation. This is in addition to reviving the functions of sanitary officials (Duba Gari) charged with the responsibility of enforcing the State public health edict in order to protect members of the general public from the dangers posed by the consumption of unwholesome food and other related products.
His administration also employed over 70 doctors and medical officers and over 200 house officers, pharmacists, nurses and laboratory scientists as part of efforts to ensure that hospitals are efficiently manned for quality and readily available healthcare services across the most populous State in the federation. The administration also employed about 60 specialists including surgeons, paediatrics, gynaecologists, orthopaedics, ophthalmologists, among others. Nurses have been sponsored to undergo special courses to qualify as paediatric nurses to improve their efficiency.
The government also established Kano state Contributory Health Care Agency, Kano State Private Health Institutions Management Agency and Kano State Health Trust Fund all geared toward ensuring sustainable, quality and affordable health care services to the teeming people of the State. These interventions are unprecedented in the history of Kano State since its creation slightly over 50 years ago.
The Contributory Health Care is a scheme that will, among other things, facilitate payment for medical and surgical expenses incurred by civil servants in the State. While signing the bill into law after passage by the State House of Assembly, Dr. Ganduje stated that as the scheme is being implemented, private sector workers would also be incorporated and it would be expanded subsequently to accommodate community involvement so that access to health care services in the grass-roots would be assured and enhanced. The scheme is sustainable because its source of funding is assured through contributions from the monthly earnings of the State civil servants and other interested parties. Already, the Governor has inaugurated the 16-man Board of the State Contributory Health Care Management Agency under the chairmanship of Dr. Bashir Muhammad.
The Kano State Private Health Institutions Management Agency is empowered to regulate the operations of private health institutions and traditional medicine practitioners in the State by ensuring that they do not engage in sharp and exploitative practices like charging clients exorbitant fees amongst other regulatory measures, revenue generation, etc for the overall benefits of the State and the country at large.
The Kano State Health Trust Fund is aimed at ensuring sustainable financing of the health sector thereby making it easily accessible especially to the under-priviledged members of the society. The fund is to be sourced from 5% of the State internal revenue generation, the statutory allocations of the 44 Local Government Councils, endowments and other sources deemed appropriate. Sixty percent (60%) of the proceeds would be allocated to primary and secondary health facilities, 25% to Government-owned health training institutions, 10% to malaria and nutrition and 5% to other services e.g. sickle-cell disease, hypertension, etc. Worth-noting is that some States in the federation have visited Kano State with a view to domesticating the law in their respective domains.
From the foregoing, it is vividly clear that Kano State under His Excellency, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR has made headway in the health sector in particular and other sectors especially education, agriculture, commerce, etc and all these within a period of two years which is unprecedented in the history of the State. This is because all the projects initiated or completed by the administration, the various policies or programmes implemented and other interventions are solely geared toward improving the living standard of the ordinary people and not for grandiose or self-serving purposes. Even those countable opposition elements that initially thought the governor was not the right person to mount the exalted position of the governorship of Kano State are now dump-founded by these numerous salient achievements recorded within only two years of his governorship.
Salihu Tanko Yakasai is the Director General, Media & Communications, Government House Kano.