The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has said that harsh economic realities would not allow the state government to provide free medical services to people in the state.
The governor, who was responding to an appeal by the management of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital to consider paying the bills of indigent renal patients, said he had not seen where medical care was entirely free.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
The governor said the government has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery is a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I saw the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers state government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Former Minister of Transportation, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed foundation laying ceremony, noted that Governor Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpassed what former Governors of the state had done.
Dr. Sekibo said that Governor Wike has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that is positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, noted that the Renal Centre, when completed, would handle and manage all kidney related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, said chronic kidney disease had become a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria. According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.