Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
The almost abandoned General Hospital, Ilorin, Kwara State, was beehive of activities penultimate Monday. It was besieged by patients as a result of free medical treatment offered by a consortium of groups with the state government.
No fewer than 70 per cent of the free eye surgeries and 50 per cent of the overall interventions were carried out, with beneficiaries commending government and other sponsors for the gesture.
The interventions began on Monday and sponsored by government in partnership with the Kwara State Association of Nigeria (KSANG), North America and Sakinah Medical Outreach. As at Wednesday, nearly 70 of the 100 cataract surgeries were done while 250 glasses were given to patients suffering from various eye disorders, according to the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the hospital, Prof Abdulfatai Olokoba.
He said additional 300 surgeries were being carried out across specialities of obstetrics and gynaecology, general surgery, orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgical interventions within the week. He added that the interventions led to impressive capacity building within the hospital with the supply of more equipment, the opening of new wards and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Dr Salman Yusuf, Chairman, Sakinah Medical Outreach and head of the Volunteer Doctors, said: “We are volunteer medical practitioners, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory scientists and other supporting staff. We decided to support the government to change the fortunes of the state in basic healthcare.”
Oloyede Lamidi, hernia patent, who benefited from the intervention, said the surgery carried out elsewhere last year was not successful and he could not bear the cost of carrying out another operation for lack of funds.
Miss Aderemi Olabisi, who had her breast lump removed, said lack of funds led to the delay in carrying out her surgery.
Muhammad Isa, who had a successful hernia surgery, said: “I made several efforts to carry out this surgery with no success because I did not have money. I am very happy with this. They did not collect any money from me. I want to thank the sponsors of this exercise both in Nigeria and the USA.”
Miss Basirat Amzat, had a breast lump said the surgery was seamless: “Everything from check up to surgery is free. They did not collect anything from me.”
Abubakar Jimoh, guardian of nine-year-old Muhammad, who had hernia, said the family had taken the child to another hospital without success until the intervention.
Mrs Zainab Abdulwahab, mother of 45-day-old boy Abdulwahab, who had surgery for hydrocephalus, commended government and its partners for coming to the aid of the baby. She said the surgery carried out earlier led to hydrocephalus and the family was unable to fund the surgery until the government intervention, which she disclosed lifted a huge burden off the family.
The Deputy Governor, Kayode Alabi, said at the closing ceremony that the state recorded at least 35 per cent rise in hospital patronage in the last three to four months as the government focused on basic healthcare: “We will make sure that all our primary health centres are properly run and functioning very well.
“Government will also equip hospitals to meet the medical needs of the people. What you have seen here is a direction of where we are going. Government is determined to secure the services of qualified health personnel to provide quality healthcare services in the state.”
Special Adviser on Health Matters to the Governor, Prof Wale Sulaiman, explained that the surgical mission was a follow-up to the medical mission where about 2500 patients were attended to by volunteer doctors from Sakinah Medical Outreach:
“The combined medical and surgical mission is one of those key emergency strategies to bring immediate relief to people that have common ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, infectious and non-infectious diseases.” He noted that the intervention brought immediate relief to patients who would have been waiting for years due to lack of funds to access medical care.
Director General, Kwara State Hospital Management Bureau, Dr Oladimeji Aluko, said that 70 per cent of the beneficiaries are indigent Kwarans. He said the last four months saw between 30 and 35per cent rise in patients who patronised state owned hospitals as a result of rising public trust in government and its interventions like payment of counterpart funds, free malaria treatment and anti-polio vaccination:
“When patients have confidence in your services they patronise. In the first quarter, the increase is extremely significant. In about four months we have 35 per cent increase in patronage.”
He added that the bureau, in collaboration with the Special Adviser on Health Matters, would come up with a mapping system of zoning hospitals in the state with one referral centre in the each zone.
The CMD said the recent equipment, opening and commissioning of ICU of the hospital was the first in the history of the state, with the purchase of oxygen concentrator, patient monitors, paediatric sphygmomanometer, automatic defibrillators, oxygen cylinders, and manual and electrical suction machines, among others.
Yusuf head of the Sakinah Medical Outreach, lauded the government for the programme, which he said offered succour to the poor.
Mr Olaitan Oyin-Zubair, who represented KSANG, said the medical outreach couldn’t have been possible without government’s funding.