Despite several attempts at reform over the past years, Nigeria still lacks a clear and coordinated approach to health care system. But in Kebbi state, the system is taking a better shape, Ahmed Idris reports from Birnin Kebbi
Health care provision in Nigeria is a concurrent responsibility of the three tiers of government in the country. The primary health care is to be provided by Local Governments, secondary health care by State Governments and tertiary health care by the Federal Government. In operating this policy, the Federal Government decided to establish at least one tertiary health institution in each State of the Nigerian Federation. The tertiary health institution was Federal Medical Centres (FMCs), which were established nationwide in states that do not have Federal University Teaching Hospitals domiciled in it. The exception to this rule is Lagos State, which has one such centre in addition to a Teaching Hospital probably because of its population.
However, the mission of establishing these Federal Medical Centres was in consonance with the general mandate given to all the Federal Medical Centres within the framework of the laws establishing the centres is to provide qualitative, affordable, specialized/tertiary level hospital care to the citizenry and to ultimately reduce the burden of diseases within the communities, through provision of prompt and emphatic preventive, curative and rehabilitative services. While the vision was to inform the establishment of Federal Medical Centres nationwide is equitable presence of the Federal Government in providing tertiary healthcare. It is therefore to see to meeting all the health needs of the clientele, within the shortest time frame.
Indeed, there are a total of 22 FMCs all over the country. As a general rule, most of the centres are situated in the State capital, especially in situations where the apex secondary health institution run by the state does not adequately meet the demands for specialist health care for the citizenry.
Consequently, Kebbi State was also among the 22 FMC established across the states. Speaking at the commissioning of the 10 capital projects, the state Medical Director of FMC Birnin Kebbi, Dr. Abdullahi Ibrhaim said that the hospital was established in November 1999 by the Federal Government.
According to Dr. Ibrahim “At inception the Kebbi State government handed over its 50-bed capacity Rural Health Centre in 2001 to be used when Federal Government established the FMC Birnin Kebbi, it started as a renovated rural health centre with a 75 bed capacity in 2001” he said.
He explained that the hospital has had three Medical Directors; Prof. BB Shehu, Dr. Ramatu Y. Hassan and him, the present Medical Director.
Continuing, Ibrahim said, ‘’I took over the mantle of leadership in January 2011. With the laudable support of the Federal Ministry of Health and that of the Management of the Hospital and the Executive Governor and the good people of Kebbi State, we have been able to transform the global state of the hospital infrastructure’’ he added.
Dr. Ibrhaim said that the hospital has expanded from 192 beds in 2010 to about 400 beds presently [Dakingari outreach inclusive] adding that the hospital now occupies the apex seat in the healthcare delivery system in kebbi State while serving as a referral centre to the state and beyond.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Khaliru Alhassan commended the Kebbi State government for ten projects executed by the Federal Medical Centre Birnin Kebbi in its quest to providing clinical services, research and training as a centre of excellence in health care delivery in the state.
The occasion which took place on Friday saw the Minister commissioning House Officers’ accommodation, Laboratory complex, Laundry complex, Library complex, Laparoscopy surgical unit, Endoscopy suit, Digital Mammography Machine, 30 beds capacity 4 unit’s wards, Patients relatives blocks and Dental Maxillofacial clinic and ward.
According to the Medical Director who further pointed out that in 2001, the hospital started with 75 beds but now it has expanded and transformed with about 400 beds including the Dakingari outreach plus 17 consultants and other medical staff such as nurses, medical officers and non medical staff.
The Director also said that in order to maintain excellence in health care delivery, the management pursues vigorous training and retraining of its staff both inside and outside the country, he commended the industrial harmony between the unions and the hospital management which has resulted in internal peace without strike.
During his remarks, the Minister applauded the selection of projects by the board and management which he described as well prioritized as noble crusade to provide health care to Nigerian citizens.
Moreover, Dr. Alhassan reaffirmed the commitment of President Jonathan transformation agenda and also stressed the Federal Government capability of handling as well as putting measures to curtail the spread of Ebola Virus which according to him is not endemic in Nigeria but only limited to Lagos alone.
He then urged livestock traders at the border towns and villages to be careful while calling on community leaders to enlighten their people on the measures to take against Ebola.
Although, the world health report 2000 ranked Nigeria 187 out of 191 countries for health service performance, a situation that has not changed much since then, according to the report, which cites several statistics to highlight the inadequacies in Nigeria’s Health Care System. Annual budget allocations to health have been persistently below 5% except for the years 2004–2007 and 2010–2013 when they were at or just above this level.
Infant mortality rates have been deteriorating from 85 per 1000 live births in 1982, 87 in 1990, 93 in 1991 to 100 in 2003, according to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, 2003. And in 2007, the Federal Ministry of Health reported 110 deaths per 1000 live births.
With this recent development in Kebbi State, one could as well heave a sigh of relief as there is hope to see light at the end of the tunnel.