By Henry Umahi
Over the years, many hospitals have become dilapidated. The roofs are blown off while the windows, doors, ceilings and beds are broken. And to talk about medical facilities in some of the hospitals is to talk gibberish: Where they exist, they have become relics.
While it is the function of hospitals to provide healthcare to the people, many of them, at best, are mere consulting clinics. However, things have changed in some places. President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Office of the Senior Special Assistant on the Sustainable Development Goals (OSSAP-SDGs), has remodelled and re-equipped the Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital in Kano and the Specialist Hospital in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State.
There was excitement recently when some journalists took a tour of the facilities that received the new lease of life in Kano and Yola.
Patients, health workers and their relatives were visibly happy about the turn of events, having seen the other side. For them, life has turned from black and white to techni-colour. As someone noted, you cannot compare yam with cocoyam.
Indeed, the infrastructural transformation that has taken place in the two hospitals is like pregnancy, something that cannot be hidden. But it not yet uhuru, as there are a few aspects of the contracts for the rehabilitation yet to be completed.
Coming into Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital, you begin to notice the changes from the gate. The access road and walkways have been rebuilt. It is a brand new day. When you step in, you notice brand new facilities, including new bedding, laboratories, theatre units and pharmacist department. Take this: Even the dead are not forgotten as the morgue has been given a facelift.
The main building of the hospital, administrative block, medical wards, theatre, and conveniences have been spruced up. Regular water supply has also been restored in the hospital.
According to some of the patients, the restoration of water supply has enabled them to use the conveniences right inside the hospitals instead of going out to look for toilet facilities as was the case before the OSSAP-SDGs intervention.
The toilets and bedding have also been replaced and the hospital is now a delight to see in the evening, with the installation of about 200 standing solar lights around the facility.
The situation is not different at the Yola Specialist Hospital, where the OSSAP-SDGs intervention has also resulted in comprehensive rehabilitation of the facilities. With the intervention, the wards, surgical rooms, paediatric surgical, orthopaedic wards, the eye clinic, and accident/emergency/compound office, access road, laboratory admin, the intensive care unit, theatres, and the mortuary of the hospital are now wearing a new look with new equipment installed in some of the facilities.
The current situation of the two hospitals is a pleasant change from what they were before the intervention by OSSAP-SDGs, which began in 2019.
Established in 1926 and 1938, respectively, the Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital and Yola Specialist Hospital have over the years developed into premier healthcare facilities patronized by people in and outside Kano and Adamawa states, as well as neighbouring countries. However, the two hospitals have suffered neglect over the years. In Kano, for instance, most of the facilities had either become obsolete or worked fitfully.
Patients and healthcare workers battled to give and receive care in broken-down facilities, wards and consulting rooms with worn out paint and toilets that had become unusable over time.
Patients had lamented endlessly that they had to go outside the hospital to take their bath and answer the call of nature.
It was the same story at the Yola Specialist Hospital, where the facilities were decrepit for years. The theatre rooms, laboratories and the wards were in urgent need of rehabilitation, though the healthcare workers tried to do their best for the patients despite the situation.
However, the transformation began for the 826-bed Murtala Muhammed Hospital with a visit by a team from OSSAP-SDGs to assess the extent of dilapidation of the facility in 2019. The OSSAP-SDGs team had met with the management of the hospital to fashion out areas of desired intervention.
The result of the meeting was a comprehensive ‘renewal’ contract for the facility awarded the same year. The contract covered rehabilitation of the building, the wards, theatres, dining/kitchen areas, the conveniences, boreholes, store and the staff quarters, among others. Also, the rehabilitation of facilities at the Yola Specialist Hospital began in 2019.
The contract involved complete rehabilitation and remodelling of the administrative block, access roads, accident and emergency department, wards and the eye clinic, among others.
Speaking on how the rehabilitation of the hospital by OSSAP-SDGs has affected its fortunes, Dr. Hussain Mohammad, chief medical director of Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital, said the status of the facility has been uplifted to the extent that it can now favourably compare to a tertiary health centre.
Dr. Mohammad also confirmed that the rehabilitation work carried out by the SDGs office covered all the structures in the hospital with the one kilometre access road not left out. The CMD noted that most the facilities in the hospital were old, dilapidated or obsolete before the intervention of OSSAP-SDGs.
The changes in the hospital, he said, are noticeable even from outside the facility. The installation of about 200 solar lights in the expansive compound of the facility now makes Murtala Muhammed a delight to look at in the evenings.
He said: “If you look at the hospital from the outside, you will see a great improvement. There are now solar lights installed everywhere, the hospital looks very beautiful at night when you are passing, and we are very happy with that. The patients inside the wards are also happy with the current state of the hospital, the windows, bedding, have been changed to the modern ones, the windows now have nets.”
He noted that, aside from the rehabilitation of facilities, new amenities were also provided in the hospital. According to him, one of the facilities is a restaurant that has now given doctors and patients opportunity of eating inside the hospital, instead of going outside.
“The innovation by OSSAP-SDGs has uplifted the hospital seriously. I want to thank them for the wonderful job done and for having our patients at heart on behalf of the Hospital Management Committee, the board and the state ministry of health,” he said.
While confirming assertions by his CMD, Ali Inuwa Kwalu, a clinic researcher, said the rehabilitation of the facility by OSSAP-SDGs was from the periphery to the core areas of the hospital. He added that health workers have been clamouring for such comprehensive rehabilitation of the facility for 20 years before OSSAP-SDGs eventually moved in. Kwalu added that workers at the hospital are happy that, aside from the rehabilitation, modern, state-of-the art equipment was also provided.
He said: “What further impressed me was that the renovation was done along with supply of up-to-date equipment. We are extremely grateful to the SDGs office for initiating the renovation.”
Habiu Saliu and Hajia Akinni, who were relatives of patients on admission at the hospital, also commended the changes in outlook and facilities at the hospital as a result of the intervention by the SDGs office.
“The renovation is giving me joy. I brought my sister here and she is on admission at the emergency ward. But when I came here, I discovered the changes. Most of the things that were not here before have been brought in. For example, you now have a bed with a locker where you can put your belongings,” Hajia Khadijah Abdullahi said.
Just like Kano, patients and health workers at Yola Specialist Hospital have acknowledged that the rehabilitation carried out by OSSAP-SDGs has resulted in the complete transformation of the facility.
Ahaz Yakubu, a maintenance officer, told journalists during a recent visit that most of the rehabilitated wards and facilities are already being used on completion.
Patients on admission and the relatives taking care of them also spoke on various changes they have noticed in the hospital.
“The environment is so hygienic. I am so much happy about the environment. Look at the fans, they are working. I appreciate the efforts and the work done by the SDGs office in this hospital and I pray that we will have such changes in other areas of our national life. We appreciate the developments here and we appreciate efforts of office of the SDGs,” a patient at the orthopedic unit of the hospital, Mohammed Adama, said while commending the cleanliness of the hospital.
Janet Nyen, from Borno State, who was on a visit to a relative on admission at the hospital, also noted that there has been a transformation of the hospital from how it was about two years ago.
“The whole place is now looking nice, very beautiful. You can see the landscaping, flowers and the roof have already changed it. The environment is very nice and neat, compared to how it was three years ago,” she said.
A patient on admission, Ali Umar, who spoke in Hausa, expressed his appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari and the OSSAP-SDGs for making the hospital conducive for patients through the rehabilitation and provision of new facilities.
Hannah Dan Azumi, who was also on a visit to a relation on admission at the hospital, said she was excited at the transformation in the environment of the hospital from the landscaping, renovation work in the wards and the change of bedding.
Patients also commended the provision of ventilators, the new bedding and rehabilitation of the wards at the hospital, especially critical equipment, including ventilators at the ICU.
Dr. Amos Haruna, a private health practitioner in Yola, said he was astounded by the changes that have taken place in the legendary health institution during his recent visit. According to him, the hospital can now compete with any standard health facility in the country as a result of the rehabilitation.
Haruna noted that the intervention by OSSAP-SDGs was the most comprehensive of such interventions for any healthcare facility in the state. He added that, with the intervention of OSSAP-SDGs, it is now cheaper for residents of Yola and environs to access quality healthcare without going outside the state.
Dr. Isa Gambo, a health practitioner based in Yola, also agreed that interventions by OSSAP-SDGs would make standard healthcare accessible and affordable to residents of the state and its environs.
“The SDGs’ huge healthcare intervention in the state will really solve many health challenges facing the state. The development will assist in reducing rate of morbidity and mortality in the state. It will also make available some treatments that people have to be referred to other states, such as cancer treatment, MRI laboratory check-up, among other useful treatment,” Dr. Gambo said.
But the two hospitals are not the only hospitals being given a new lease of life in the quest by OSSAP-SDGs for Goal 3 of the SDGs.
In Kano, aside from the Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital, OSSAP-SDGs has also initiated comprehensive rehabilitation of Abdullahi Wase Hospital, Infectious Diseases Hospital, a specialised service hospital, and Abubakar Imam Urology Centre.
In Hong Local Government Area of Adamawa State, OSSAP-SDGs has constructed a 100-bed standard referral hospital with 20 blocks of doctors’ quarters and standard laboratories. The project has since been completed for official inauguration.
Also, a 40-bed cottage medical facility equipped with standard laboratories, with MRI, doctors’ quarters and emergency unit in Girei Local Government Area of Adamawa State has reached a level near completion.
In the same vein, OSSAP-SDGs is building another 40-bed cottage hospital with laboratory and staff quarters in Yolde Pate area in Yola South Local Government Area of the state, while another 20-bed capacity hospital in Pariya village in Fufore Local Government Area of Adamawa State is also under construction by the SDGs office.
Speaking on the series of interventions by her Office, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, said the goal was in fulfilment of the bid to ensure that Nigeria moves forward in health indices of the SDGs. According to her, the comprehensive rehabilitation of the facilities in Adamawa and Kano and ongoing massive interventions by OSSAP-SDGs in the health sector across the country are in fulfilment of the vision of President Buhari to make quality healthcare available to the people at the grassroots.
She, therefore, commended the President for his commitment to alleviating the plight of the common man and making life more meaningful for Nigerians.