In the midst of the ravages of coronavirus disease in Wahun city of China, in particular and other countries, the world have noted what could pass for the “China Wonder,” wherein the government of this Asian country recorded a construction feat, in its move to tackle the disease. Just in 10 days, the Chinese government built and equipped a hospital that would host about 1, 000 patients in Huoshenshan.
Built on 645, 000-square foot, this emergency medical facility is made up of two floors, with several detached wards and 30 intensive care units. Giving insight into how this was made possible, David Hartley, managing director of NTX, an engineering company that specialises in hospital construction in the United Kingdom, which handled the project, said, while pointing at the use of prefabricated units: “Instead of first building the foundation and then following up with the superstructure (i.e. the steel frame, the building, and the cladding), prefabricated units allow the construction of the foundation and the building envelope to take place in parallel.
“So the pre-fabricated elements, which would be the Lego blocks that you can see being craned in, are actually fabricated off-site in a factory at the same time the foundations are being prepared on-site.”
The engineering firm used 7,500 labourers, who worked round the clock to construct the hospital. The site workers said: “We have been working here for nine days. We have only slept for two hours in three days.” Interestingly, China is building a second hospital 25 miles away from Huoshenshan, also for the treatment of coronavirus patients.
As the world celebrates China for this construction wonder and swift reaction to the devastation of coronavirus, Nigerians are taking note of what is happening in Osun State in the healthcare sector. At a time when some state governments are paying lip service to health care delivery, the government of Osun State has taken decisive steps in ensuring that the health facilities in the state are functional. With a pledge to improve the health sector, using, among other things, technology-based approach, which will ensure quality and affordability, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola has done quite a lot in the health sector.
Making a firm commitment, he said the sector will be revitalised as a “further fulfillment of the resolve of our administration to use health, which experts say is wealth, to power all the sectors of the state to deliver prosperity and good life to the people.” According to him, his government’s revitalisation programme was holistic, as “it comes with the use of technology to boost health delivery, provision of modern equipment, training and re-training of staff for efficient healthcare.”
Towards this end, the Osun State government flagged off major health facilities in Ejigbo (Osun West) and Ifetedo (Osun East) Senatorial Districts on assumption of office on November 27, 2018. It also set out to rehabilitate, 332 Primary Health Centres (PHCs). So far, about 100 of the PHCs have been completed and being commissioned. Already, Primary Health Centres in Sabo, Olorunda Local Government Area; Odi-Olowo, in Osogbo Local Government Area and Adejuwon, in Ede-North Local Government Area, have been commissioned by the governor. The commissioning of the PHCs in Odesan and Fayemi Ikeja, in Ife-South Local Government Area, was done by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Benedict Alabi, while those in Anwo, Irepodun Local Government Area and Akinorun, in Ifelodun Local Government Area as well as in Ifewara, Atakunmosa-West Local Government Area, were commissioned by the Chief of Staff to the governor, Dr. Charles Akinola, the Head of Service, Dr. Festus Olowogboyega Oyebade and Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prince Wole Oyebamiji.
Governor Oyetola, while commissioning the PHCs, appealed to the people to patronise the hospitals. He was proud to say that out of the 332 health centres earmarked for rehabilitation and upgrading, 175 had been awarded, with 100 completed in barely one year. He said the renovation and revitalisation of these health centres would “signal the arrival of improved healthcare delivery and well-being in this community and its environs,” emphasising: “With this improvement in the physical infrastructure, equipping of the PHCs, purchase of operational vehicles, provision of drugs worth several millions of naira and motivation of the health personnel, the decay often seen in the health sector is gradually becoming a thing of the past.”
Also, the Oyetola administration has taken up the revitalisation of nine General Hospitals across the state. There is also the expansion of the Osun State Specialist Hospital, in Asubiaro, Osogbo, a project that consists the construction of 120-bed patients ward and 30 doctors’ quarters. The specialist hospital project is all-embracing. Conceived as multi-specialist hospital, it boasts of well-equipped sections as paediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics & gynaecology, general surgery, radiology, physiotherapy and medical rehabilitation. Others are HIV testing, counselling and treatment, TB/leprosy care, family planning services, optical services, medical laboratory services and dentistry.
The state government also took particular interest in major campaigns, such as immunisation, exclusive breast feeding, maternal neonatal, polio eradication, net hanging and facility level training, just as the Osun State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS (OSACA) has introduced incentives for pregnant mothers who attend ante-natal clinic and have HIV test result.
As they say in Igbo land, when a warrior is praised, he does more, Governor Oyetola has been receiving commendation for his giant strides in the health sector. The commendations have been coming from professionals, community leaders and health associations, among others. Recently, during the commissioning of the renovated PHC in Imo, in Ijesaland, former Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said government’s effort would make the health sector more efficient. He pointedly said: “There is no doubt that this initiative will further help to enhance quality service delivery and boost the sector for the benefit of the people of the state.”
In an apparently comparative analysis, Engr. Remi Omowaiye said the Oyetola administration had exceeded the achievement of previous governments in the state and other states in Nigeria in the area of health care delivery. According to him, “no government in Nigeria has embarked on the construction and renovation of 332 PHCs at a time as being done by the present (Osun) administration in the state.”
For the Medical and Dental Consultant Association of Nigeria, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital (LAUTECH), Osogbo branch, Governor Oyetola has done figuratively what “Napoleon could not do.” Commending the government, chairman of the association, Dr. Rasak Akindele, said the Osun government had shown commitment in its avowed promise to take health sector many notches higher.
He told the governor: “You have been a listening father whose passion for human and capital development cannot be over-emphasised. We have seen your zeal and commitment tailored to ensure an improved standard of living for all workers, particularly health practitioners.”
For the avoidance of doubt, the effort of the Osun government in restoring confidence in the health sector, through improved facilities, quality workforce, supply of drugs and materials and prompt attention, is commendable. The common saying, ‘health is wealth,’ makes much sense. A healthy nation is a wealthy nation. At a time people are worried about medical tourism, wherein Nigerians spend enormous resources on medical care abroad, for even ailments that should ordinarily be treated at the PHCs in the country, Governor Oyetola’s interest and investment in healthcare would help in changing the narrative. With well-equipped and well-funded modern hospitals, Osun State is positioning itself as health care destination in Nigeria. Thumbs up for Governor Oyetola and his government.