By Femi Onasanya
History was made on the 29th May, 2019 when Prince Adedapo Oluseun Abiodun MFR from Iperu-Remo in Ogun East Senatorial District was sworn-in Fifth Executive Governor of Ogun State amidst jubilations at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta. In his inaugural speech, Prince Abiodun revealed that the activities of his administration would be predicated on the mantra: Building Our Future Together with the health sector on the front burner of its activities.
Prince Abiodun who said that there is no future without a sound health, noted that his government would provide access to health through a number of initiatives such as:
a deep focus on primary healthcare center as the nucleus of the healthcare delivery system; rehabilitation, equipping and adequate staffing of the General Hospitals, State Hospitals and Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospitals; deliberate capacity building to upscale knowledge and skills required to deliver effective and efficient healthcare in our hospitals as well as restructuring of Health Insurance Scheme to address identified lapses and make it more efficient and affordable as well as deliberate capacity building to upscale knowledge and skills required to deliver effective and efficient healthcare in the hospitals.
In an effort to match his words with action, Governor Abiodun picked the State’s tertiary health institution and the nation’s first state-owned teaching hospital, Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, as his first port of call barely ten days after inauguration for a thorough assessment of the situation of the foremost institution.
Lamentably, Prince Abiodun expressed displeasure at the deplorable state of things in the health institution, describing it as unfit to produce competent doctors. A similar situation was observed in the primary and secondary health facilities which called for strong political will to turn around the situation.
While the Governor was looking for way out of the woods for the health sector, he appointed Dr. Tomi Coker, to mann the affairs of the Sector and this appointment has since been seen as a round peg in a round hole given the unprecedented and creative achievements that have been brought to the fore.
It is apt to state that it has not been business as usual in the last 24- months of the Prince Dapo Abiodun administration as far as the health sector is concerned considering the efforts made in ensuring the provision of qualitative and affordable healthcare services across the nooks and cranies of the Gateway State. The activities of the sector in the last two years have revolve around Staff Welfare, health infrastructure and qualitative health services.
The government, which has been committed to capacity building of its health workers in these two years in saddle, has addressed shortage of manpower and approval of necessary allowances as well as salary adjustments in line with global best practices.
It is on record that the Governor, within this space of time gave approval for the recruitment of over 700 health workers across all cadres in Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital ( OOUTH) and Hospitals Management Board to address the shortage of manpower which had bedeviled the sector before May 29, 2019.
The State Government, in its efforts to achieve universal health coverage for residents, inaugurated a Technical Working Group for sustainable health financing and assured that its health insurance will cover everyone in the formal and informal sector of the economy.
In a bid to ensure the Ogun State Health Insurance Agency ( OGSHIA) operates optimally, the present administration released the sum of N100m start-up grant for its take-off. The government also put necessary things in place for the commencement of Basic Health Provision Fund in line with the National Health Act 2014, which established the health package for children below age 5, pregnant women and people above 65 who cannot afford to pay for health services from their pockets.
It is interesting to note that the government had begun the the registration of 20, 000 vulnerable across all the local government areas for free healthcare bordering on common malaria, blood pressure, diabetes, Tuberculosis, and other basic health conditions.
The Prince Dapo Abiodun led government within this period in office has put smiles on the faces of the doctors and other health workers under its employment by adjusting their salary to fit in with that of their counterparts under Federal Government employment, thereby laying to rest the age-long issue which had incessantly resulted in industrial crisis and avoidable exit of health workers from the state service in search for greener pastures.
The priority given to changing the faces of health facilities in Ogun State from Primary to secondary and the tertiary facilities respectively, has been second to none given.
As a strategic government, Ogun State Government, in its quest to changing the narrative in the primary healthcare, pick one PHC per ward across the 236 wards of the state. And it had done justice to equipping, renovating, staffing over 100 PHCs in the first phase of the exercise with a firm assurance that the set goal of 236 will be completed at record time. This move will no doubt help to provide access to healthcare especially by people in the rural areas.
Studies show that one of the major cause of death is lack of transportation to health facility which causes delay in receiving healthcare. Hence, the need for the introduction of tricycle ambulances system across the 20 Local Government Areas of the state with special focus on rural areas. The state government, without delay, had distributed 22 ambulances to its 20 Local Government Areas.
This move, would not only help emergency situations, but will help tackle maternal mortality in the rural areas of Ogun State given that people in the hinterland who patronise traditional birth attendants can be rescued when things go out of hands in a timely manner to the nearest health facility within a short time.
However, the tricycle ambulances are meant to provide support to the existing Ambulance and Emergency Services Department which monitors the activities of the ambulance operations in the state. It is on record that the Abiodun led government inherited six ambulances at inception. But within this two years, it has increased the ambulances in the fleet to 26. The present administration has also increased the ambulance points from 4 to 12 across the nine Federal Constituencies of the state with presence in 11 local government areas.
The Department which is expected to be formally elevated into a full-fledged agency in no time has been responsible for providing prompt and effective rescue for road accident and disaster victims while moving critically- ill patients have benefitted from the availability of the Advanced Life Support Ambulances.
Little wonder that OGSAES has activated a state-wide emergency 3-digit number, that is, 7-7-7, which has been serving as an avenue for the general public to notify the department of any emergency. Also, a 24-hour call room linked with the fire and security services has been put in place to enhance collaboration with the fire managers during crisis. The icing on the cake for the Department of Emergency and Ambulances under the watch of Prince Dapo Abiodun is the commencement of 24-hours emergency services across the length and breadth of the state.
In addition, the introduction of hub and spoke system in the health sector of Ogun State is such that allows for integration of higher health institution when the case at hand is beyond the particular facility handling it. This has enabled a seamless transfer of patients from Primary Healthcare Center to General Hospital to State Hospital and the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital which is the state-owned tertiary health facility in the state.
In order to stem the tide of maternal death in Ogun State, despite the fact that the Gateway State has the best rating in maternal health in the country, the Ogun State Government in its wisdom created Alternate Medicine Board to enhance collaboration between the traditional health practitioners and orthodox medicine.
This Board, which is headed by the Chairman, Balogun Nurudeen Olaleye and Registrar has been working round the clock to register to register the traditional medical practitioners, monitor their activities and ensure they operate in line with 21st century reality.
In a bid to improve service delivery in the state-owned hospitals, the Government constituted the Hospitals Management Board which is headed by Dr. Isiaq Salako, with the mandate of providing the needed support to the existing structure.
Without mincing words, the remarkable effort of the Ogun State Government in curtailing and containing the Covid-19 pandemic is second to none. It is no news that index case of Coronavirus in Nigeria was discovered in the Gateway State , yet the state remains one of the states with lowest fatalities and positive cases in Nigeria. This would not have been possible but for the creative approach of the Prince Abiodun administration towards the health and safety of his people.
The case of Ogun at the outset of the deadly virus in the country had to respond and prepare to contain the outbreak at the same time. Without delay, the State was able to put three isolations centers in place which had the capacity to containing about 500 patients at a go. The centers were located at OOUTH,Sagamu, Ikenne and its Infectious Disease Hospital, Iberekodo, in Abeokuta to take care of positive cases, just as the state made provision for high risk cases at the 250-bed hospital, furnished with ventilators, among other important equipment.
Worthy of note is the fact that Ogun was the first state to put up a state-owned molecular laboratory in the country in line with its passionate drive to ensure the safety of its people. The second molecular laboratory which the state is proud of today was donated by a private company as part of its contributions to the efforts to contain the pandemic. Obviously, there are a number of private laboratories which have since been in operation in the state to provide support for government-owned laboratories. This move had helped to improve the turn-around time for the Covid-19 tests being carried out in the state.
In addition, Ogun was the first to introduce home care management for asymptomatic patients, having thoroughly done a research on the need to reduce overcrowding in the various isolation centers. The State also put measures in place to checkmate the spread of the disease during home management. This approach is commendably being replicated in different parts of the country.
Similarly, in demonstration of its passionate concern for its health workers, the Ogun State Government was the first in the country to enrol its over 8,000 health workers for life insurance in the wake of the Covid-19. This move was to encourage the frontliners, and boost their morale. Apart from other benefits, the present administration increased the hazard allowance of all its health workers by 15% throughout the period of the pandemic.
Unarguably, health workers in Ogun State have no reason to fear given the regular and timely provision of Personal Protective Equipment ( PPE) in all its primary, secondary and tertiary health facilities across the length and breadth of the Gateway State.
These moves informed the comments made by the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnibe Mamora, in an interview, who affirmed that Ogun Covid-19 response has been excellent. Mamora recalled that since Nigeria’s index was recorded in Ogun on February 27, 2020, the Gateway State has surpassed expectation, noting that the assessment template of the Federal Government for various states revealed that the state has done so well.
Worthy of note is the commendable move of Governor Dapo Abiodun on the 12-member Governing Council of OOUTH which is headed by renowned Ophthalmologist, Dr. Adekunle Hassan,and a galaxy of stars who make up the council.
Inaugurating the Council, Prince Abiodun tasked them to ensure a sustainable legacy of efficiency and effectiveness that will continue to make the hospital a leader among teaching hospitals in the country.
The holistic approach of the present administration has re-positioned the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), in fulfilment of its earlier promise of returning the foremost tertiary health facility to its glory land. The OOUTH staff strength has been increased and strengthened to ensure the state meets up with the international standard in terms of the number of patients to medical practitioners.
In recent time, the leadership prowess coupled with the political will of the state government informed the success of the monumental surgeries carried out in the OOUTH which have now placed the institution on the fast lane of progress.
For example, among the phenomenal surgeries carried out in the OOUTH are the Laparoscopic Surgeries which are known with the characteristics of leaving less pain , helping to achieve early feeding for the patient as well as faster recovery and early return of the patient to full activity with less scare and reduced complications.
The enduring legacy being built by the present administration is evident in the way it is ensuring proper planning and effective implementation of all health-related interventions in the year 2021 by compilation, printing and dissemination of the Annual Operational Plan (AOP) and Monitoring and Evaluation Plan ( MEP) to all stakeholders in the health sector.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker, during the official flag-off of the dissemination of the AOP and MEP documents, said the Ministry understood the imperative of having a coordinated approach towards achieving the State Government’s objectives for the health sector. Unveiling the documents, Coker said the Prince Dapo Abiodun led administration had envisioned a health sector that will lead to a reduction in maternal and infant mortality and an increase in the life expectancy of all residents of the State, pointing out that the 2021 AOP will further help realize the set goals. She said that the 2021 AOP is the first time the State Government would develop a holistic plan aimed at defining the trajectory and timeline for achieving sustainable results, adding the state government would continue to invest in the health sector as a means of improving the well-being of residents.
In a similar vein, the productive and proactive activities of the Ogun State Action Against AIDS (OGSACA) enabled the Government to take the lead in unveiling HIV test kits in Nigeria. These items have been available across the State, to avail individuals the opportunity to take HIV test in their homes and other private locations in order to increase the awareness of the infection for people who are reluctant to know their status.
Wife of Ogun State Governor, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun, while speaking during the launch of the kits, commemorating the 2020 World AIDS Day with the theme: ‘United to End AIDS in the Midst of COVID-19,’ at the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Complex in Abeokuta, said it was imperative for everybody to embrace the HIV self-test kit, so that they could derive maximum benefit from early antiretroviral treatment.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker, while speaking at the launch of the test kits in November 2020, said Ogun State is the first in the country to launch the HIV self-test kit, noted that the State would not relent in the provision of Anti-retroviral drugs (ART) for people living with HIV in the State, as well as testing and counselling. It is on record that the drive of Ogun State Government towards fighting the scourge of HIV/AIDS is second to none in the country, just as the present administration has vowed to continue to bring down the prevalence of the disease in the state.
It is on record that the budgetary allocation of Ogun State to health sector since Prince Dapo Abiodun took the reins has not only been exemplary but such that posterity will celebrate. At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the Governor went as far as revising the budgetary allocation of the health sector to 20 per cent in order to fight the deadly virus more effectively.
There is no gain saying that the Prince Dapo Abiodun’s two years in office has brought a huge turn-around to the health sector across board considering the infrastructural deficit which is being made a thing of the past, workers welfare and capacity which are being built and the health system which is being strengthened. It is, therefore, not out of place that in no time, this revolutionary move will make Ogun the health tourist destination of choice in Nigeria.
Femi Onasanya, the Press Officer in the Ogun State Ministry of Health, wrote via email@example.com ( 08084818609)