April 13, 2024

Gov Obaseki’s Scorecard: Edo People Feel Failed By The Healthcare System

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Stella Obasanjo Hospital under construction

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By Raphael Ihonde, Moses Abehe and Cynthia Agbonvbare-Ayin

Earlier in July this year, the Nigerian Medical Association in Edo State, cried out over the dilapidated condition of the healthcare system in the state.

Ongoing Renovation of Stella Obasanjo Hospital

NMA spoke through the chairman, Dr. Udoka Imoisili during the opening ceremony of the Annual General Meeting of the Association of Resident Doctors under the Edo State Government Employment (ARDEDGE).

NMA described the condition of health facilities in the state as “nauseating.” Dr. Imoisili explained that, a tour through most hospitals across the state, Imoisili said, “showed dilapidated buildings, ragged furniture, and fittings, no light source, no rest rooms and devoid of water; with an environment, only fit for poultry.”

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The commissioner of health, Dr. Alli responded that Governor Obaseki was doing his best for the health sector and he pleaded to be given a few months to interact with the governor to resolve issues raised by the NMA.

Before the outcry by NMA, the Executive Secretary of Edo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Omosigho Izedonmwen had announced a beautiful plan with the use of PowerPoint for Health, when he addressed the press in Benin City.

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Amongst several plans he unveiled, he said: “No healthcare system can thrive without a dedicated workforce of highly qualified personnel, and the Edo State Government has taken this to heart. The government has been investing copiously in building the capacity of its healthcare workers, a remarkable feat worthy of commendation.

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“Recently, the state embarked on an ambitious plan to train over 300 Primary Health Care (PHC) personnel, both clinically and non-clinically, to enhance their skills and capabilities in delivering top-notch medical services

“Such lofty goals are indeed achievable, thanks to the hiring of over 700 medical professionals, who will work alongside the existing workforce to fortify the state‘s PHC infrastructure.

“These medical professionals, armed with the latest medical knowledge and cutting-edge technology, will undoubtedly bring positive change to the healthcare system in Edo State and make quality medical care accessible to everyone, regardless of their location or socioeconomic status.”

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Izedonmwen emphasized the vital role of technology in the primary healthcare development agency, by highlighting the importance of computer literacy in the recruitment process, because the planned primary healthcare development agency will be driven by technology.

He added that the state government’s unwavering commitment to capacity building was evident in the selection of 55 PHCs “for a massive overhaul, a bold move that shows the government‘s determination to bring the state‘s healthcare infrastructure to international standards of excellence.

A Primary Healthcare Centre in Akoko Edo

A Dilapidated Healthcare Centre in one of the Communities in Esan West

A section of Ugo Primary Healthcare Centre in Orhionmwon Local Govt. Area

“The first 12 of these PHCs are set to be unveiled by the end of June, a significant milestone that will boost the morale of healthcare workers and instill confidence in the populace.” The Executive Secretary of Edo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency promised.

However, since then these promises were made, nothing on ground shows any improvement on the healthcare sector in Edo State – either primary or secondary.

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A visit to the 192 wards across the 18 local government areas reflects a near abandonment of the existing facilities. The promise to build a “Standard Primary Health Centre” in each of the ward headquarters has remained Edo State government pipe-dream promise.

As if to admit failure in the health sector, Governor Obaseki down-played his activities or success during the 2023 ‘Alaghodaro’ celebration. Apart from a visit to the ongoing Stella Obasanjo hospital, nothing significant was named as achievement for the seven years budgetary provision for the health sector.

A cursory review of the administration’s performance during the period under review by Midwest Herald reveal inaction, more of rhetorics, forecast, and talkshows, but less physical intervention.

The recent case of Igarra General Hospital in Akoko Edo Local Government Area in the state, is a glaring example of the worrisome condition that has characterized hospitals in the state. The Igarra hospital has been left in appalling condition and stakeholders are in agreement that the situation is the same across the state.

Like the case of Edo State Ministry of Education, patients are asking if there is a Commissioner for Health or if the state government has abandoned her responsibility to provide healthcare to the poor masses who rely on public hospitals.

Statistic shows that Edo State has about 513 Primary Healthcare Centres, out of which government claimed that 55 were selected for renovation, out of which 12 was penciled to be unveiled last June. Government has remained silent since this promise was made five months ago.

Going by the figures generated by the ministry of health, and assuming that all 12 or 55 identified healthcare centres were renovated as promised by government, does this figure justify the over N178bn budgetary provision in the last seven years of Godwin Obaseki’s administration? This and many questions were put across to government through the Ministry of Communication and Orientation, but Midwest Herald’s official request was not granted.

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Out of this N178bn, a whopping N35bn was allocated to the Primary Healthcare Centres alone.

Sadly, and more worrisome is the horrible fact that the present administration has continued in its habit of pulling down existing hospitals that hitherto were rendering healthcare services to the poor masses of Edo State.

It will be recalled that the iconic Central Hospital in the heart of Benin City was demolished by obaseki and the land donated to the Trustees of Museum of West African Arts. And thereafter, patients were sacked from the Stella Obasanjo Hospital that was constructed under 19 months by ex Governor Lucky Igbinedion. Since then, the sprawling health facility has been undergoing unending renovation.

The only government hospital in Benin City today, is the Specialist Hospital that was built and equipped by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Presently, the hospital has been leased out to private businessmen who run the facility like a private clinic.

The State Health Insurance Scheme designed by government to leverage the access to healthcare by Edo people-especially the poor, has not been successful.

Now, the reality is that Edo people will have to wait longer, after Governor Obaseki promised that the Stella Obasanjo Women and Children Hospital will be ready for use by the second quarter of 2024.

But when Midwest Herald visited the Specialist Hospital for situation report, some patients received the assurance from Obaseki that Stella Obasanjo will be ready for their use next year. Their doubt is a reflection of lack of trust for the present administration.

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A random visit to over 200 out of the total 513 of the state primary health center across the 18 local government areas exposes the embarrassing  neglect of the state health physical infrastructure.

Records available to Midwest Herald shows that Obaseki’s administration has budgeted the following figures to PHCCs in the last 7 years:

2017 (N3.98bn); 2018 (N4.01bn); 2019 (N4. 37bn); 2020 (N4.56b); 2021 (N5.05bn); 2022 (N5.97bn) and 2023 (N6bn – 3Qs)

A list of some health facilities that are in terrible condition include the Usugbenu General Hospital Irrua, where  Nurses are left to perform the medical duties of Doctor, Iruekpen General Hospital,  Central hospital in Uromi, lgueben General Hospital and Ekpoma General Hospital. Both Ubiaja and Ekpoma hospitals can be liken to abandoned property.

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The following Primary Health Care (PHC) in some 11 out of 18 are completely a tragedy caused by neglect of Obaseki’s administration. 

The health centres in Akoko-Edo in this category are in Uffa-Akuku, Igarra, Ugbogbo, Ikiran-Oke, Sasaro, Onumu Sale, Onumu Oke, Atte, Ikpeshi, Egbigere IN, Egbegere OUT, Ijaja, Ikakumo, Agboshi-Afe, Agboshi-Ile, Ekpedo, Nekhue, Ojah, Make, Ojiranmi, Ogbe, Dagbala and Okpe.

The deplorable health centres visited in Esan Central, are in Ibore, Atuagbo, Unogbo, Afuda, Ohe, Agua, Igbele, Ebudun, Ibhululu, Eko Iyobhebhe, Opoji, Ugbegun, Udowo, Ugbakhere, Eko Ewu and Uzogholo that

Those in Ovia South West aare only comparable to abandon poultry. From Umaza, Obobaifoh, Essi, Usen, Okoro, Gbelebu, Ofunama, Ikoha, Aden, Abieyi, Evbonogbon, Ajakurama, Ajamagie, Ulorin, Ugogui, Sule, Ofunmwegbe, Gbeoba, Iguafole, Urhezen, Iguatakpa, Iguelaihor and Okokpon, they are all relics of efficient past.