Healthcare: How Gov. Gaidam transformed Yobe into medical tourism destination

Daily Nigerian
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Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State
Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State

Few issues are as pivotal or more significant, in the life of a community or a nation, than the presence of a working, thriving, and affordable health care system.

It is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of societies that have materially prospered – that people can access basic care and get those routine check-ups without having to worry too much about cost or availability.

This is of course a goal to which many developing societies aspire. In Yobe State, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, through sheer effort, has turned this aspiration into an inspiration for the doctors, nurses, and other professionals working in the state’s health care sector and for the hundreds, even thousands of young Yobeans who will come to participate in and be part of the service delivery team going forward.

It’s the idea that, as the major catalyst for change and progress, the Yobe State Government can provide the objective conditions and the incentives needed to entirely transform the health care sector and make for that working, thriving system that truly cares.

And so, for the best part of the last five years, Mr Gaidam set himself – and the government – to the task.

Today, major hospitals in the state are being retrofitted and expanded. Primary health care is ascendant. A brand-new teaching hospital, humming with new technologies and new equipment and staffed by hundreds of doctors and other professionals, is already in operation.

The governor established a new College of Medical Sciences at the Yobe State University. Built from the ground up, the College is arguably the best built environment for the study of medicine in this part of the country.

Large and expansive, and already furnished and installed with the tools needed for academic instruction, the YSU College of Medical Sciences is set to begin student enrolment soon.

In more ways than many seemed to take in, the Medical College that Governor Gaidam has established is the very embodiment of his vision – and mission – for Yobe’s health care; that for all the investments the state government has made in the sector, continuity and sustenance are dependent on whether the state can produce its own corps of doctors and professionals who can manage the sector going forward.

This is what the governor has done with the YSU College of Medical Sciences – making sure that quality health care delivery can go farther along in Yobe State for years and years to come, Insha Allah.

READ ALSO: Gaidam approves 100 percent CONHESS implementation for Yobe nurses, pharmacists, other health professionals

Other good developments kept coming out of the governor, especially the recent approval for a 100% implementation of the Consolidated Health Salary Structure, CONHESS, for nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals in the state’s health sector.

A statement signed by the Director-General of Press Affairs to the governor, Abdullahi Bego, said that Mr Gaidam also approved 100 percent implementation of the revised Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, CONMESS, for medical officers.

According to Mr Bego, a submission on the salaries of administrative staff of the Yobe State University Teaching Hospital, YSUTH, was also approved by the governor.

“The total monetary implication of the approvals – which is the differential on the existing salaries being enjoyed by the three groups of beneficiaries – is N74, 335, 339.2 per month.

Meanwhile, The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, on Friday, endorsed the medical reform programmes of the Yobe Government, aimed at effective healthcare delivery.

Mike Ogirima, NMA President, stated this while exchanging views with the Secretary to Yobe Government Baba Malam-Wali in Damaturu.

Baba Malam-Wali said the state government in 2012, declared state of emergency in the health sector in order to ensure overhauling of the sector.

He said, “Government launched a deliberate programme to rehabilitate medical institutions, train medical personnel and equip the hospitals.”

The secretary to the state government said government also entered into partnership with international and local donor partners who donated equipment worth billions of naira for distribution to medical institutions across the state.

He said that the state government also established medical college and a University Teaching Hospital to boost medical manpower.

“We are optimistic that with the reform programmes in the health sector, Yobe will be a centre of medical tourism in Nigeria,” he said.

The governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Gaidam, has said that the state government will collaborate with Al-Madain College of Medical Sciences and Technology, a newly established university in the Sudan, to train more Yobe students in medical specialities, including in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and medical laboratory sciences as well as in electronics engineering and architecture.

The governor revealed this today at Government House, Damaturu when he received the Chancellor of the university, Abdallah Hassan el-Bashir, who paid a courtesy call on him.

The Yobe State Government currently sponsors more than 1,400 students in institutions of learning outside the country, including in Sudan. More than 80 female students of Yobe origin are currently enrolled at Ahfad University.

Mr el-Bashir, who is a general surgeon and retired major general in the Sudanese army, said his University, al-Madain, will offer excellent opportunities for Yobe students as the state government intensifies effort to re-position the healthcare sector and make Yobe a hub for medical tourism in Nigeria.

“We have ten academic programmes in al-Madain College of Medical Sciences and Technology and we are excited to partner with Your Excellency Gov. Gaidam to take in Yobe students to study in our university. We will offer excellent opportunities for them”, Mr el-Bashir said.

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More so, the governor approved the placement of additional 110 medical students on salary Grade Level 07 in order to encourage home-grown and home-trained corps of medical doctors.

According to him, the Medical students will join the 389 others who have already been placed on the government’s payroll and have been receiving their salary every month.

In a statement signed by Mr Bego, said the scheme is designed to incentivize medical students and get them to return and serve in the state after completing their MBBS degree training.

“The Yobe State Government will spend a total of N41, 392, 560.00 per annum to pay the additional 110 medical students who have just been enrolled in the government’s payroll.

“With the setting up of a new Medical College at the Yobe State University and a new Yobe University Teaching Hospital, the goal of His Excellency the governor is to cultivate Yobe’s homegrown and home-trained corps of medical doctors who will join in providing the medical services that people across the state need,” the statement noted.

It could be recalled that the state government had recruited an additional 228 medical doctors, consultants, nurses and other categories of specialists and professional medical workers for the newly established Yobe University Teaching Hospital, YSUTH.

The gesture was aimed at improving the people’s access to quality and affordable healthcare services, as the teaching hospital began to provide medical and clinical services to the public.

The latest recruitment of the 228 additional medical personnel follows interviews conducted by a special recruitment committee headed by YSUTH Chief Medical Director, Baba Waru Goni.

The statement said “Of this number, there are six medical consultants, 30 medical officers, seven dental officers, 22 nursing officers, seven skilled nurses, 66 general duty nurses, 10 pharmacists, six radiographers, two X-Ray technicians, five pharmacy technicians.”

Also the number includes “13 health management information officers, 29 HIM technicians, two dieticians, five physiotherapists, one audiologist, two optometrists, two opticians, three dental therapists, nine dental technicians, one plaster technician, and two medical lab technicians.”

It further said renovations and expansion of the General Hospitals in Gaidam, Gashu’a and Potiskum Towns are ongoing, which the state government also intend to equip.

A key sector that attracts the world’s attention to Yobe today is healthcare. It is one of the sectors that was hardest hit by the six-year Boko Haram insurgency. However, due to the governor’s determination, the healthcare sector in Yobe State has remained resilient during the tempests of those years and has now moved from resilience to strength.

It all actively began in early 2013. On an inspection visit to the State Specialist Hospital, Damaturu, Governor Gaidam was so appalled by decrepit conditions and lack of basic facilities in the hospital that he decided to declare a state-of-emergency across the entire health sector.

The objective of the declaration was to return to the drawing board, re-think healthcare delivery practices and put forward all the measures necessary to make the sector work again – so that a weak healthcare system that does not deliver is transformed into an active, functional patient-care system that is accessible and affordable to the people.

And the measures worked. Today, because of those efforts, a brand new Yobe State University Teaching Hospital (YSUTH) built by the Gaidam administration has become the crown jewel of the state’s tertiary healthcare.

In addition, massive investments in the sector had five general hospitals across the state totally rehabilitated and expanded with equipping well underway.

These are the State Specialist Hospital Damaturu and the General Hospitals in Potiskum, Gashu’a, Gaidam and Damagum towns. General Hospitals Jakusko and Dapchi have also been rehabilitated.

With some of the best and most modern equipment to boot, the hospitals that were rebuilt and rehabilitated by the Gaidam administration have thus been enabled and empowered to deliver the best possible care to patients.

But more significant is the massive recruitment of well-trained healthcare personnel to manage the delivery of care. In the recent past, the Gaidam administration has brought on board more than five hundred consultants, medical officers, nurses, and other professionals to work at YSUTH and other hospitals in the state.

For these and other interventions, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), the umbrella association for all medical and dental practitioners in the country, will honour the governor with an award of excellence in Damaturu today for his “outstanding reform” of the healthcare sector. The NMA Yobe Chapter award will be presented to the governor by NMA National President, Prof. Mike Ogrima.

the first 48 hours of admission in hospital; of VVF patients who have seen an entire medical facility dedicated exclusively to their care.

Governor Gaidam plans to sustain these accomplishments by creating the conditions that guarantee growth and continuity, and a steady supply of medical doctors and professionals who will manage the healthcare sector in the years to come.

In a year or two from now, for instance, many of the over 400 students sponsored by the administration to study medicine in institutions of higher learning within and outside the country will begin to graduate and head home to Yobe to begin careers in the service of the state.

But, more significantly, by building a new College of Medical Sciences and starting off a medical degree at the Yobe State University by the 2018 academic year, Governor Gaidam has boldly and proudly entered his name for posterity as the ‘modernizer’ and ‘enabler’ of modern healthcare in Yobe State.

There is something telling – and remarkably inspiring – about the awards that the governor had received so far. From the one conferred on him by the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) in Sokoto two weeks ago for his effort in maternal, new-born and child care, to the award conferred by the Chartered Institute of Mediators and Conciliators (CICM) in Abuja a week ago for “using post-conflict dispute resolution interventions and peace building to manage the aftermath of Boko Haram insurgency” to the NMA award today, there is a sense of weight, originality and profundity to the way the governor is recognized.

In fiscal year 2018 and the reminder of its term, the Gaidam administration will continue to invest to further strengthen the sector and make quality and affordable healthcare even more accessible to people throughout the state.

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