From Uche Uche, Damaturu.
Since his assumption of office as the governor of Yobe state, Alh. Ibrahim Gaidam has shown avid desire to turn the state health sector around for improved services for the wellbeing of people of Yobe state, by especially ensuring that the system meets the national criteria of having three tiers of health services delivery institutions; primary, secondary and tertiary hospitals.
To meet this need, the governor embarked upon the construction and equipping of a multibillion naira 200 bed capacity Ultra-modern hospital, now renamed Yobe state university teaching hospital, along Potiskum road, in Damaturu the state capital, which is a tertiary hospital, equipped with the latest state of the art medical equipment and cutting edge diagnostic facilities like the 1.5 Teslar MRI machine and 65 slide CT Scanner which are found in very few places in Nigeria today.
This project has been completed 100% and has started giving medical services waiting formal commissioning.
The Gaidam-led administration has also established a state primary health care management board to effectively coordinate primary health care activities in the state in line with the national health policy, the national health act, as well as the resolution of the northern governors’ forum in 2007.
Other policies and programs put in place by the administration geared towards promoting the health condition of the citizenry include provision of free maternal, neonatal and child health services and giving free medical treatment to accident victims for the first 48 hours and the program has equally, on several occasions, supported emergency services during insurgency and other suicide attacks in the state.
However, when the governor took an inspection tour of health facilities in the state on the 24th of May, 2013, he was appalled and utterly dissatisfied with what he saw on the way and manner the health sector was being run, in terms of governance, services and supervision, which were at the lowest level, contrary to his vision and aspiration, thus moving him to declare a state of emergency on the sector, with good results.
Consequently, there was an immediate adjustment in the ministry of health which led to reassignments at the directorate levels, followed with appointment of core professionals to preside over the activities of the ministry and its agencies, appointment of new chief executive officers to head the ministry, the health management board, the state primary health care management board and the state action committee on Aids respectively, as well as the training institutions.
Following that declaration of the state of emergency in the health sector, the governor embarked on massive infrastructural upgrading of health facilities such as the General Sani Abatcha specialist hospital, Damaturu which was turned from 150 bed capacity to about 400 bed capacity hospital and equipped with modern modular operation theatre, intensive care unit, central supply and sterilization department, modern laundry, accident and emergency complex, pharmacy unit in accordance with modern hospital best practices, this, in order to meet the rapid expansion and urbanization of the state capital, Damaturu.
The government has also renovated, rehabilitated and expanded the three zonal general hospitals in Potiskum, Gashua and Geidam, and contract was recently awarded for the installation, commissioning and user training of assorted medical equipment to these hospitals, this is in addition to the upgrading of several dispensaries to the status of maternal and child welfare clinics with the provision of ambulances to them.
Employment of personnel and health professionals was pursued with vigour with over 342 staff nurses and midwifes in addition to 200 primary health care staff were being engaged as birth attendant nurses and midwives were also employed and trained.
To further improve the people’s access to quality and affordable healthcare services, on 21st December 2016, the Governor approved the first batch recruitment of 158 doctors, nurses, and other staff for the new teaching hospital. 17 expatriate doctors were also recruited from the Republic of Egypt.
The latest recruitment of 228 additional medical personnel follows interviews conducted by a special recruitment committee headed by YSUTH Chief Medical Director, Baba Waru Goni.
This includes medical doctors, consultants, nurses and other categories of specialists and professional medical workers for the newly established Yobe University Teaching Hospital (YSUTH), which has begun to provide medical and clinical services to the public.
Of this number, there are six medical consultants, 30 medical officers, seven dental officers, 22 nursing officers, seven skilled nurses, 66 general duty nurses, 10 pharmacists, six radiographers, two X-Ray technicians, five pharmacy technicians, 13 health management information officers, 29 HIM technicians, two dieticians, five physiotherapists, one audiologist, two optometrists, two opticians, three dental therapists, nine dental technicians, one plaster technician, and two medical lab technicians.
The Yobe State Government did these recruitments to further improve the people’s access to quality and affordable healthcare services.
To further make specialist health care services easily accessible at minimal or no cost to Yobeans, the state government has concretized engagement of the services of visiting, locum medical consultants, especially at the General Sani Abatcha specialist hospital, Damaturu and, focusing in the nearest future to make available the much desired medical officers, the state government has taken upon itself the sponsorship of over 370 medical students within and outside Nigeria.
The Yobe state government did not stop at engagement or employment of medical staff, but places emphasis on training and retraining of medical and health professionals within and outside and as a further step forward, established a relationship for retraining and capacity building of medical and health professionals with the Apollo hospital in Chennai, India which is among the top 5 hospitals in the world.
All these efforts were geared towards the goal of improving the quality and address the manpower gaps in the state human resource for health department.
The state government has also established training institutions within the state that includes the Shehu Sule college of nursing and midwifery in Damaturu the state capital which recently received an uplift in standard with a new top management brought in to address the challenges facing the college and reposition it as an excellent training ground for nurses and midwives with the knowledge, skills and characters befitting of any properly trained nurse and midwife.
Attention was also given to facility improvement in the area of renovation of existing structures and the construction of a multipurpose hall, library with an e-library section, hostels, and laboratory in the college which was accredited and commenced midwifery training in March, 2015.
There is also the school of health technology in Nguru town, the headquarter of Nguru local government area and the state which was established in 1999, now upgraded to college of health sciences and technology in 1st January 2017 by the effort of the Gaidam-led administration.
The institute was designed primarily to address the lower and middle level human resources for health requirements of the state.
However, because it was then operating in a temporary primary school structure with limited space and structure, it was very difficult to expand and put in place ideal learning materials.
In response to this, the state Governor, Alh. Ibrahim Gaidam approved a new location and went ahead to invest in its infrastructural upgrade and expansion in addition to equipping it with laboratory equipment, demonstration materials and office furniture with a view to making learning and skill acquisition easy and qualitative.
It is thus poised to commence other courses such as health information management, pharmacy, medical laboratory and dental technician courses respectively, and other middle level courses much needed in the state facilities that are currently in short supply in both the primary and secondary health facilities in the state, to ensure optimum operations.
The polio eradication initiative of the administration of Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates and Dangote foundation, has paid off contributing to the eradication and subsequent declaration of Nigeria a polio free nation.
It is very important to note that these milestones of Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, which are inexhaustible, were achieved at the most trying times in the history of Yobe state when security was at its lowest ebb, resources are virtually not available and the little that comes to the state was being used to support the security agencies who were fighting to contain the insurgents.
The Gaidam led administration has also paid attention to the provision of good and befitting accommodation for medical and health professionals in order to raise staff morale and improve their efficiency and to this end, well-furnished accommodation has been provided for the use of doctors and other health professionals that includes about 100 new units of 3 bedroom, 2 bedroom and 1 bedroom transit camp in different locations within Damaturu the state capital and other places within the state.
Because of the political will displayed by the governor in the health sector so far, one can be sure that in the near future, he may be able to achieve the feat of universal health coverage in Yobe state.