By Tom FredFish
Money is one aspect of wealth. There are more to wealth than money. The most important and acknowledged of them all is health. No one can acquire wealth without good health. That is why it is generally accepted that “health is wealth” – a famous saying that refers to the importance of health to human. If one is not healthy i.e being in the state of physical mental and social well-being, wealth means nothing to that person.
Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State having recognized that the most important aspect of governance is not constructing roads, establishing industries and empowering the people but ensuring better health facilities for the people because without good health, good road, industries and money is meaningless. And there would not be the requisite manpower to drive governance.
Governor Emmanuel therefore undertook a considerable amount of reforms in the health sector by procuring about twenty-five containers of state-of-the art medical equipment and thereafter strengthened the health care delivery system to deliver effective, accessible, efficient, affordable and people-friendly health services.
Apart from health care delivery, the governor Emmanuel declared free medical services for children below 5 years, pregnant women and the aged; he ensured the renovation and overhauling of St. Luke’s Hospital Anua and the construction of Dr. Ann Ward Gyneacology block in the same hospital. He guaranteed the construction of the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) at Infectious Disease Hospital in Ikot Ekpene; reconstruct and equipped the General Hospitals at Etinan, Ikono, Ituk Mbang and Ikot Okoro. He also renovated and furnished House Officers quarters in Uyo and Oron and undertook free screening and treatment of over 15, 000 people for various eye diseases; performed 1,150 eye surgeries and 2,000 eyeglasses were distributed to residents of the state in partnership with MTN free of charge.
Governor Emmanuel further ensured the treatment of 4, 000 moderately and severely mal-nourished children; encouraged the awareness campaign on non-communicable diseases; treatment and prevention of hypertension, sickle cell disease, cancer and diabetes mellitus.
Another area governor Emmanuel exhibited a marked difference is the training and certification of 100 Doctors and Nurses in basic Lives Support (BLS) and advance Cardiac Lives Support (ACLS) with medical emergency experts from the USA. He also provided residential quarters for 48 House Officers in the state hospitals and in the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH), training 20 Biomedical Engineers to maintain the equipments procured.
About thirty (30) health staff comprising doctors, nurses, drivers and porters were also trained on basic life support skills. Two other basic life support trainings have been subsequently conducted bringing the number of health staff trained on emergency response to fifty (50).
The Ambulance Service Programme which is still at a pilot stage and operating under a Memorandum of Understanding between the state Ministry of Health and Nestle Nigeria PLC is conceived to target pregnant women and children of five (5) years and below is another big mark to the Udom Emmanuel led administration.
The governor also approved the training of forty-eight (48) House Officers from different establishment such as the general hospital Ikot Ekpene, Eket and Oron. Because of his efforts, these institutions have been given provisional accreditation. It is expected that full accreditation would be granted soonest.
The need for man power recruitment and training cannot be overemphasized. Thus the governor Emmanuel administration ensured the successful processing of admission to one hundred and fifty (150) candidates into Schools of Midwifery; and admission to two hundred and one (201) candidates into the various Schools of Nursing in the 2015/2016 academic year respectively; the government sponsored many nurses to participate in Nursing and Midwifery Council final qualifying examinations for general nurses and midwives in which Akwa Ibom State where the state scored 100% in both.
The Udom Emmanuel led-administration also provided intervention items and amenities to health institutions across the State. A number of 50 customized mattresses, 50 pillows and two desk top computers were given to School of Midwifery, Anua; 30 Student desks, 10 customized mattresses and 10 pillows to the School of Nursing, Anua; also provided was a complete water reticulation in the School of Nursing, Ikot Ekpene; supply of another 50 student desks in the School of Nursing, Eket; 25 customized mattresses, 25 pillows and 4 desktop computers to the School of Midwifery, Ituk Mbang; and 70 customized mattresses and 70 pillows in the School of Midwifery, Oron.
The welfare of Doctors in Akwa Ibom State is one subtle area that governor Emmanuel gives particular interest to. The State is one of the first to quickly implement the consolidated medical salary structure (CONMESS) to Medical and Dental Practitioners which took effect from June, 2015 courtesy of the governor Udom Emmanuel administration.
These landmark achievements and others in the health sector have placed governor Emmanuel as one of the most health-friendly governors in Nigeria and sealed a second term deal with the Akwa Ibom people come May 29, 2019.
Tom FredFish is a public affairs analysts.