From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has said that Nigeria must strengthen public health institutions, saying Nigerians who cannot afford medical treatment abroad do not deserve to die.
The governor maintained that it is the primary responsibility of any government to ensure equitable access to basic healthcare for the citizens, especially the poor and most vulnerable in society.
Governor Wike made the assertion after inspecting ongoing construction work at the multi-billion naira Dr Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre; the Basic Clinical Sciences and Clinical Sciences, the Renal and Pathology Departments for the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, Saturday.
The governor said the state government’s huge investment in the tertiary hospital and public health infrastructure was aimed at making the state the hub for medical tourism in the country.
Governor Wike remarked that any government that recognises the centrality of public health and its critical role in nation-building, will as a priority, strengthen public health institutions so that those who cannot afford to seek medical treatment overseas don’t die.
‘How many people can afford travelling overseas? We have all it takes to improve on our health sector, to provide the necessary facilities. We have our doctors, all we need to do is training and retraining them,’ he said.
‘Look at Government House Hospital (Port Harcourt), look at how people troop in there, because the basic facilities are there and the doctors are willing, committed to work because of the environment they have found themselves.
‘If you give our people the required environment and give them the facilities, the tools to work, there is no need for us travelling to overseas. When people come to Government House Clinic, they look at the facilities and say is it not what we see overseas? So, we can replicate it here in Nigeria.’
The governor declared that government must make it a priority to provide incentives and creation of an enabling environment that can help ensure that doctors and other medical experts do their job well.
‘So, my own motivation is that if I have the opportunity to travel overseas, what about others who do not have the opportunity to travel overseas? Must they die simply because they don’t have the opportunity? It is the obligation of the government to make sure that our citizens are given the best in terms of protecting their lives. It is the responsibility of the government to protect lives.
‘So, for me, it is our responsibility and so, we must do everything we can to see that we save the lives of our people by making sure that our healthcare delivery system is working and the doctors are also given the best for them to work.’
Governor Wike described the quality of work at the Dr Peter Odili Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre, as very satisfactory.
He disclosed that the contractor, Julius Berger, was working assiduously to meet the deadline for the completion of the project.
He explained that the ongoing construction work at the Basic Clinical Sciences and Clinical Sciences; Renal and Pathology Departments buildings were required to make the Rivers State University a full-fledged Teaching Hospital.
The governor further said the state government was not owing the contractors handling the Renal Centre, Pathology Department, Basic Clinical Sciences or the Clinical Sciences buildings of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital.
He charged the institution to ensure that all the contractors work towards the completion of the project by May 2022.
‘We have spent so much money in the health sector and we believe that our people at the end of the day will appreciate what we have been able to commit to health. For us, giving Rivers people the best has always been our priority. All I pray is that the contractors should meet up the time,’ the governor said.