Fashola Commissions Cardiac And Renal Centre, Says It's A Big Step In Reversing Human Capital Flight
• Facility has surgical theatre where kidneys and hearts can be removed and transplanted, Open heart surgery, telemedicine capability, others
• "We plan to build our own Cancer Centre here if you elect an APC Government led by Akinwunmi Ambode", he says
Mar 18, 2015 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Wednesday officially commissioned the Cardiac and Renal Centre at the State's University Teaching Hospital Annex, Gbagada, saying it represents a big step in reversing the human capital flight from the nation's Health Sector.
Addressing a capacity audience consisting of health workers, top government functionaries, traditional rulers and other stakeholders including chieftains of the All Progressives Party (APC) at the hospital grounds, Governor Fashola said with the establishment of the hospital many Nigerians working abroad have either returned or signified their intention to take up appointment at the hospital.
The Governor said aside the Consortium Managers of the hospital, made up of Nigerian and American Cardiac and Kidney specialists, the 32 Medical Staff already on ground include seven Nigerians hitherto based abroad who have come home permanently while another twelve also in the diaspora have signed to come to the hospital in rotation and 50 Nigerian specialists in diaspora have also agreed to be coming on permanent rotation to the hospital.
Recalling that his administration was fired by the desire to bridge the gap created by lack of adequate hospital facilities and equipment in the State's hospitals, Governor Fashola added that the major complaint he received from Nigerian medical professionals abroad during his travels was that although they were willing to return and practice at home, there was gross lack of medical facilities and equipment needed to work effectively as obtains in hospitals abroad.
"Today, we have a hospital that has 24 dialysis bed stations, 20 beds for recovery and general ward use, two high dependency wards with five beds each making a total of 10 beds for patients who have come out of intensive care, five beds for patients in intensive care and four post surgery beds for patients who have just finished surgery", Governor Fashola said.
Other facilities, according to the Governor, include two post cathlab beds and two surgical theatres "built to the most contemporary standard to cater for patients who are critically ill". He described as most fascinating the surgical theatre where kidneys and hearts can be removed and transplanted.
Governor Fashola said provisions were also made for teaching of medical students disclosing that there are cameras fitted into surgical scumps which, according to him, project images and voices of happenings in the theatre to the students'lecture rooms on the ground floor.
"This ensures that students can learn by seeing and hearing what is going on in the theatre without actually being in there, which ensures the sterility of the operating theatre area and protects patients from secondary infection", the Governor said adding that the Concession Managers also have in their agreement a planned quota for poor people who the State Government would refer to treat for free with the understanding that the government would pay when the quota is exceeded.
He declared, "Whatever we pay in future will be cheaper than going abroad. It will not include airfare, it will not include accommodation abroad all of which are paid in dollars and doctors' fees and feeding costs will now be charged in Naira in Lagos".
Future plans for the hospital, Governor Fashola disclosed, include siting a Cancer centre in the complex and a plan to build accommodation within the complex for spouses or relatives of patients who may accompany their sick loved ones to the hospital adding that the land for the construction and management has been set aside.
Looking forward to the development of medical tourism from across West Africa into Lagos, the Governor declared, "So, there is opportunity for investors, who propose acceptable terms within the hospitality industry, to build hotel apartments here for relatives of sick people", adding that in that way the hospital could earn income from its facilities for its maintenance.
"In this way, health workers can set their own income based on work done and away from agitation for wage increase, he said disclosing that the entire negotiations with the
Concession Managers took almost one year with assurance from them that Nigerian medical students would be trained in the hospital while also assuring that there would be no strikes in the hospital.
Commenting on the many problems encountered by his administration while building the facilities, Governor Fashola recalled that after his predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, upgraded it to a teaching hospital, the Ikeja General Hospital became full with more structures necessitating its expansion to Gbagada General Hospital where many problems were encountered especially flooding of the Gbagada Expressway.
The Governor commended the State Ministry of Health and the Project contractors, Deux Project, for coming up with the design of the Gbagada Complex as an Annex of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) adding that between 2008 and 2014 the State sponsored many cardiac, renal and burns patients as cases for treatment abroad as well as cases of kidney transplant, dialysis and post transplant Immunosuppressants at St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos.
He expressed delight that all the problems, including flooding of the Expressway, have been overcome with the revival of street lights in the area adding that the area is today flood free as could be testified by residents of the area including the Deeper Life congregation and has a concrete road that can last for another fifty years without resurfacing.
Taking a swipe at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) -led Federal Government for its inability to conceive a plan to build such facility in the country and stop the brain drain from the nation's Health Sector as well as capital flight as a result of flying Nigerians abroad for treatment, Governor Fashola recalled that the late President Yar'Adua was flown to a Saudi Arabian hospital to manage kidney ailment adding, "We could have built one with all the petro-dollars".
"But that is not the way of the PDP. The PDP and its government were moving from NEEDS to Vision 2020 to Seven Point Agenda and now to Transformation. The Federal Government does not understand that it diminishes our image every time the head of government travels abroad for medical care", the Governor said adding, "What is the ailment that a Nigerian President goes to treat abroad that a Nigerian hospital built by him cannot handle?"
Expressing satisfaction at the completion of the project, Governor Fashola declared, "I can look forward to my old age now with confidence that if anything happens to my heart or kidneys, I used my period of service to build a facility that can respond to my needs. I know now that I will not need to go abroad because of a lack of choice. If I do so, it will be my own choice and not that the Lagos State Government failed to provide an alternative".
In an interview later on the strike embarked upon by medical doctors in the employ of the State Government, Governor Fashola stated that the Trade Dispute Act prescribed very clearly that if people go on strike they would not be entitled to any pay adding that the striking doctors must also understand that the period when they went on strike was the period when there was an Ebola outbreak in Lagos and that was the period when they were most needed.
Maintaining that the State Government does not owe the striking doctors except the time they went on strike, the Governor recalled, "That was the period when foreign doctors, who had no stake in this country, came to Nigeria to serve and that was the period when local doctors who own the country did not serve".
"We do not owe them for any period other than the period they went on strike. We have paid for January and February and we will pay for March up till the period they stopped working. It is not a policy of Governor Fashola or the Lagos State Government. It is a policy of the Federal Government. It is a Federal Law", the Governor added.
Governor Fashola again appealed to the striking medical doctors to go back to work, adding that it they insist on continuing the strike the State Government would be compelled again to apply the law.
Thanking members of his team for the successful delivery of the project, the visibly elated Governor declared, "We have shown that there is no problem that we identify which we cannot confront. We solved the drainage problem, we solved the capacity problem. We have also solved a brain drain problem. Nigerian doctors have started coming home to practice medicine; we are also providing the solution to avoidable exportation of sick people in the name of medical tourism".
"This facility would receive sick people from within Nigeria and from across the sub region in order to treat people who have kidney and heart diseases. So I am very proud. The job has been done and we would move on", he said.
One of the beneficiaries of the medical facility, Mr. Fred Ayeni, who said he has been patronizing dialysis centres since 2007, said he spent about N75,000 a week for dialysis which he undertook twice a week before the coming to the Cardiac and Renal Centre in Gbagada where he now spends just N20,000 weekly for dialysis.
He expressed his appreciation to the State Government for conceiving the idea of the Renal Centre and bringing it into fruition to take care of people with such health challenges, stating that many past administrations have come and gone without conceiving any such project.
Earlier in his welcome address the State Health Commissioner, Dr Jide Idris, expressed the happiness of members of the health family for the successful conceiving, implementation and commissioning of the medical facility which, according to him, took five years to accomplish.
According to Idris, "The State had to contend with the triple burden of communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases and mental health disorder even before the World Health Organisation's pronouncement that non-communicable diseases would assume epidemic proportions".
The Commissioner said statistics from the well attended free Hypertension and Diabetes screening programme conducted in Lagos over the past seven years showed that on the average, 20 per cent of the clients had Hypertension, while five percent had Diabetes Mellitus.
Stating that the prevalence of End stage Renal disease in Nigeria was estimated at 290/million and that for such patients, renal replacement therapies in the form of dialysis or kidney transplant were critical to prolong and improve the quality of their lives, Idris reiterated that the new centre would also be a training institution for medical students and resident doctors as it has been concessioned to the best specialists internationally to enhance the training of the resident doctors.
Among those present at the occasion were members of the State Executive Council including the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba, his Finance, Special Duties and Commerce and Industry counterparts, Ayo Gbeleyi, Dr. Wale Ahmed and Mrs. Olusola Oworu, as well as Special Adviser on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina, among others, the Oba of Lagos His Royal Majesty, Oba Rilwan Babatunde Akiolu, and his white Cap Chiefs, Chairman of the Concession Managers, Tamda Renescor, Dr. Ladi Awosika, Chairman House Committee on Health, Hon. Suru Avoseh and medical staff of the Hospital among other stakeholders.