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Our parlous health system and the Yobe example, by Hassan Gimba

Our parlous health system and the Yobe example, by Hassan Gimba

In my last two write-ups, I narrated my sojourn to Saudi Arabia, where I ended up at the Makkah Saudi-German Hospital in search of Medicare.

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After extolling the virtues and efficiency of the Saudi model, I asked the pertinent question: Why can’t we replicate the model? I went as far as requesting state governors to build one each in their states and engage the Saudi-German Hospital to run it for them for some time.

It was just after the publication that I came across a statement by Katsina State Governor, Dr Dikko Umar Radda, who said that his state had gone very far in terms of health delivery and that, bar Yobe State, it is the best in Nigeria. I was impressed.

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A governor accepting that another state is better than his? In a BBC Hausa interview programme named “A Fada A Cika”, he declared that in the North, the only state that Katsina can look up to in terms of healthcare is Yobe.

Then I came across Statisense’s research-based statement that only 14 states, Yobe inclusive, in Nigeria improved their healthcare delivery capacity between 2016 and 2021.

Statisense is a pioneering and leading Nigerian AI data company which specialises in financial report analysis, bank statement evaluation, and AI chatbot services.

This made me get in touch with the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Yobe State University Teaching Hospital (YSUTH), Damaturu, Dr Baba Goni Waru, a young and humble chap with a brilliant mind. An Associate Professor at the University of Maiduguri, he has been a medical doctor for 26 years, 16 of which as a Consultant Physician and Specialist in Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine.

He is also an experienced hospital manager and administrator, having been the executive secretary of Yobe State Hospitals Management Board between 2015 and 2016. In 2016, he was appointed the CMD of the teaching hospital.

Having seen what makes a hospital a hospital in Saudi Arabia, I sought to know from him what distinguished the hospital from its contemporaries based on the interventions of the government of Governor Mai Mala Buni since other governors and reputable organisations were all giving him the thumbs up.

Dr Waru told me that, to begin with, free haemodialysis services for patients suffering from Chronic Kidney Failure at the YSUTH had been going on uninterrupted throughout the five years Buni has been governor, where about 600 sessions of free haemodialysis are done monthly. And because of this, he said the governor recently increased the standing monthly payment for the free haemodialysis services at the teaching hospital by 100%, from ten million naira to twenty million naira. A reputable supplier, Nipro Nigeria Ltd, based in Lagos, provides consumables following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the state government.

He further revealed that the governor sent a delegation from YSUTH and the health sector in the state to the Urology and Nephrology Centre (UNC) at Mansoura, Arab Republic of Egypt, in 2019 for an MoU to commence Kidney transplant services at the teaching hospital. The

Urology and Nephrology Centre, Mansoura, is a World Health Organisation-recognized international centre for training on kidney transplants. Prof Muhammad Ahmad Ghoneim, a renowned urologist of international repute and the pioneer director of the centre, carried out the first kidney transplant in the Middle East and Africa at UNC Mansoura in 1973.

Governor Buni, he said, personally led a delegation to the United Kingdom last year for a collaborative visit to the University College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Francis Crick Institute in Central London for research collaboration with the state government and the Yobe State University particularly on research into the immediate and remote causes of prevalent chronic kidney diseases bedevilling some communities on the fringes of Komadugu River in the northern part of the state.

Dr Waru further told me that Governor Buni had built and equipped a 400-bed capacity Maternal and Paediatric Complex, the largest in the country, at the YSUTH Damaturu. Commissioned last year, the complex has state-of-the-art modern equipment in terms of maternal, newborn and paediatric care. There is also a modern 30-bed capacity labour ward, modern theatre suites for gynaecological and obstetric operations, special newborn care unit with phototherapy machines, special incubators for newborns, baby cots, multi-parameter monitors for newborn babies, ultrasound machines, central surgical sterilization department, etc., and to boot, all maternity cases are free of charge. Children from the age of one day to five years and accident victims are also treated free.

There are also no issues with power supply, according to the CMD, as there is a 24/7 power backup for the new complex apart from a dedicated line from the National Grid. There are 800KVA generator sets, a one-megawatt solar power supply, high-yield capacity boreholes, 24/7 outsourced cleaning and security services, etc.

In terms of human resources, one of the tripodal factors that make a hospital world-class, I was told that Governor Buni had employed about 25 senior consultants and clinical lecturers to provide services and training at the new maternity and paediatric complex and the medical college as well. He also employed more than 300 other healthcare professionals including junior and middle cadre doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, laboratory scientists and technicians, health information management staff, ICT staff, hospital assistants/janitors, etc.

Another tripod that makes a hospital is equipment – we have listed others earlier –  some of the state-of-the-art equipment at the YSUTH are the latest MRI machine in town, the 1.5 Tesla Canon MRI Machine in the Radiology Department, 164-slides modern Toshiba CT scanning machine, digital x-ray machines, 3D and 4D ultrasound scanners, C-arm x-ray machines, mobile x-ray machines, modern Mammography machine for screening of breast cancer in women, etc.

There is also a plan to sustain the supply of the hospital’s manpower needs in terms of training those who will work, learn and eventually take over from tired hands. The establishment of the College of Medical Sciences at Yobe State University will result in the production of the first set of graduates and indigenous medical doctors within the next two to three years. Apart from medicine, other professional courses offered at the college include BSc Physiotherapy. The college is expected to begin courses in Bachelor of Nursing Sciences, Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Sciences and BSc Medical Radiography soon.

While the government of Mai Mala Buni has provided the tripod that distinguishes a hospital as first class, the pivotal ingredient – finance – that keeps oiling the wheel of success at hospitals is lacking at the Yobe State Teaching Hospital. For this, the hospital has been drawing people in need of medical attention from all over the country.

I am told he intends to encourage indigenous medical professionals to form a body and partner with the government by taking over the growing teaching hospital.

This model, as developed by the Buni administration, is noble and worth adopting throughout the country.

Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime.

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