With a unique free health care and welfare package for elders, Ekiti State is second to none in life-friendly policy in Nigeria
Governor Kayode Fayemi is not a medical doctor but a war specialist. However, his approach to free health care stands out among other state governors, some of who are medical doctors. The free health care, which is fashioned after the free health care introduced by late Obafemi Awolowo, former Western Region premier, is more comprehensive and designed to improve life and reduce mortality rate among residents of the state. With emphasis on touching the lives of under-five, pregnant women, elders and the physically challenged residents, Fayemi introduced a health policy that provides excellent health care for the people at no cost.
Through the Ministry of Health, Fayemi confronted the high mortality rate recorded in the state due to chronic illnesses that claim lives of the residents. For instance, with its Surgical Festivals, the state under his administration has rendered medical assistance to people that could not afford the cost of health care and also sends patients that require renal transplant abroad. The festival also offers free treatment for people with cataract, hernia and cases of cervix, ovary and breast cancer. “We have a lot of people with chronic illnesses and many of them just die carelessly because there is no care. Since 2011, about 687,000 people, which is about 25 to 30 per cent of the population of the state, have benefitted from the festivals. This type of medical intervention and welfare package was not part of the Awolowo health care,” said Olusola Fasuba, Commissioner for Health, who started medical practice in 1981.
In 2012 and 2013, the state government spent about N130 million on patients who could not afford the cost of medical services due to financial constraints and another set of 43 people have been shortlisted for medical assistance at a cost of about N45 million in few months. Also, about N18 million was spent to acquire prosthetics, wheelchair and other aid materials that were distributed to physically challenged people.
To track certain dimensions of service quality in its health services, the state government commissioned Ekiti Health Data Bank, a health management information facility. Fasuba explained that the facility is designed to house and disseminate all health data in the state. To achieve its goal of recording information on health events and check quality of services at different levels of health care, the commissioner disclosed that the ministry had procured 34 motorcycles to facilitate data collection and collation, rolled out of DHIS2, a web-based data management portal for automation of data collection, collation and analysis, data centre hardware for backup storage of data and laptops for 16 local government areas monitoring and evaluation officers among others.
Fayemi also confronted the challenge of broken down and sub-standard infrastructure with a very ambitious campaign against ‘old hospital structure’. He launched the campaign to rebuild the entire health system, from primary to tertiary levels to avail people of the state of quality health care at home instead of travelling to other cities in the country or abroad. To this end, the government has provided the 313 primary health centres spread across 137 wards with minimum requirements like senior health officers, nurses, laboratory technicians and medical doctors. In other to strengthen the state’s capacity for effective delivery of health services to its people, a total of 4,535 health workers benefited from various training programmes. Mary Omotosho, deputy coordinator, Ado Ekiti Local Government Health Centre, described the development as a landmark achievement in terms of human capacity development in the health sector. She confirmed that transformation has improved the maternal and child health care system in the state. “The governor introduced free health care in the centres in the state. We take care of pregnant women from the day they found they are pregnant till the delivery date without collecting a dime from them, we also treat under-five children and that has reduced the mortality rate among this group in my centre,” she disclosed.
Out of the 20 secondary health care and general hospitals, Fayemi is currently renovating 18 of them at the same time at the cost of N1 billion. Fasuba added that the government is building Oba Adejugbe Hospital, a 300-bed specialist hospital that will be commissioned in May 2014. According to him, the hospital equipment will cost over N1 billion. “We are planning that the facility would take care of chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes and hypertension and they are going to do very good surgery there. I have contacted a consortium from England to assist us to get a radio therapeutic machine to the place. It would be the prototype of National Ghana Cancer Centre in Kumasi and Accra,” the commissioner disclosed.
The tertiary health level is not left out in the Transformation Agenda. The Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, EKSUTH, has witnessed a tremendous renovation and re-equipping. Kolawole Ogundipe, acting chief medical director, CMD, EKSUTH, who confirmed the development however noted that the transformation at the hospital has been made possible as a result of Governor Fayemi’s priority attention to health care delivery in the state, adding that service delivery at EKSUTH particularly had improved tremendously. The newly-acquired hospital beds with other modern equipment in the hospital theatre; laboratories, well-equipped wards, newly-purchased ambulance and engagement of more experienced specialists in various departments coupled with the positive work attitude of the medical staff and the clean, hygienic environment, gave him a strong conviction of a great transformation in the hospital. “We handle specialist assignments like diabetology, renal and hernia among others. We are putting more attention to ensure that that place becomes a world-class teaching hospital comparable to none,” Fasuba added.
The acting CMD equally confirmed the existence of a new Accident and Emergency Unit and the renovation of the Male Surgical Ward at the EKSUTH as well as the construction of a new laboratory extension block equipped with the state-of-the-art facilities. “Without any doubt, the improved service delivery in the health sector of the state coupled with the newly introduced Ambulance and Emergency Services alongside complementary purchase and donation of eight modern ambulances with Intensive Care accessories will desirably complement health care delivery across the state. It is an indication that Governor Fayemi has fulfilled his electioneering campaign promises in the health sector of the state,” Ogundipe added.
To mark his third anniversary, the Governor commissioned Funmilayo Olayinka Mammogram Centre and Cancer Research Centre, a research institute named in memory of Funmilayo Olayinka, former deputy governor of the state, who died of breast cancer. Abimbola Solanke, project manager of the centre, explained that the institute has been handling several cancer- and heart-related cases. She added that the centre is designed to forestall another loss to the dreaded disease with its ultra-modern, state-of-the-art diagnostic centre.
Solanke says the impact is tremendous: “We have recorded an impressive traffic of patients who come to know their status or treatment in the hospital because they know the centre is equipped with modern equipment to focus on early detection and treatment of cancer. People also use our fitness centre, where we have treadmills, sit up and other machines that monitor the state of their hearts,” she said. According to her, the free cancer-screening programme organised by the state government revealed that 45 of the 2,760 women that were screened had palpable masses in their breasts and 20 per cent of the affected women had advanced breast cancer while 31 per cent were found to have breast lumps after histopathological examination. She adds: “The hospital also provided necessary support to those who needed to undergo immediate surgeries.” But the state government is not resting on its laurels. Fasuba disclosed that the governor recently, approved the consignment of medical equipment worth over N420 million through a consortium in Atlanta, America, for the centre.
According to Fasuba, the development and other feats achieved by Fayemi’s administration have attracted some international ratings. He said the state started witnessing a turnaround in the health sector in 2011, after Governor Fayemi came on board and that is because he realised that it is only healthy individuals that can contribute meaningfully to the local per capita income. He discloses: “Now, we are one of the highly rated states with the best life expectancy. After the World Bank conducted a study on us, we became one of the states that have the lowest maternal mortality, highest number of pregnant women attended to by key birth attendants and even the number of registrations in our hospitals has gone up considerably because of this health policy and agenda. The rate of mortality in under-five children has reduced in the last three years.”Follow Us on Social Media