by Emmanuel Unah
The healthcare facilities in Cross River State comprise significantly of those owned and operated by the Federal Government which are the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH and the Psychiatric Hospital both located in Calabar; and the state government owned secondary and primary healthcare institutions which are spread all over the state.
The University of Calabar, the premier medical institution in the state metamorphosed from St Margaret Infectious Hospital, a missionary hospital established in 1897 by British and Scottish Colonial missionaries. Mary Slessor used the place as a clinic to treat diseases among the natives of old Calabar.
The hospital was acquired in 1980 by the University of Calabar to serve as a training center for its medical students and at the time, had top grade facilities and a cadre of qualified and efficient personnel which positioned it as one the most sought-after medical facility in Nigeria.
Among its facilities then include four surgical theaters, X-ray equipment, laboratories, patient wards fully equipped and functional mortuary, kidney center, an orthopaedic surgical unit and other ultramodern facilities. But suddenly, these facilities were allowed to gradually rot away.
This worsened during the military era to a point that the mere mention of the name UCTH began to evoke fear and pity as to the deplorable state of facilities in the premier health institution.
At a point, there was the fear of an outbreak of epidemic from the hospital’s mortuary following its decrepit and sordid state. It’s cooling system packed up and the mortuary attendants had to pour raw chemical on dead bodies to preserve them and often, the chemicals had devastating effect on the bodies.
Corpses were often laid on the floor with some piled on others, causing a nauseating and offensive odour comprising of dead bodies and chemicals to emanate from the morgue.
The poor condition the corpses were exposed to often devastate the bodies prompting their owners to reject them or in some instances, resort to legal action against the management of the hospital.
However, in the last eight years beginning from the era of Dr Rowland Ndoma Egba through to that of Dr Asuquo as the medical directors of the hospital, efforts have been geared towards rehabilitating the hospital to reposition it to its former glory. The hospital has been moved to a more spacious site at the eastern flank of the University of Calabar with several edifices erected to accommodate the several departments.
Dr Thomas Agan, the current Medical Director of the Hospital told Saturday Vanguard on phone that his immediate priority on assumption of office was to transfer all the departments in the hospital which were still operating from the St Margaret annex to the permanent site to save cost.“ UCTH was the only second generation teaching hospital that still operated from a temporary site at the time I assumed office in 2011 and this was greatly shooting up the overhead cost of running the hospital. So, we had to move fast to complete some structures that were abandoned in the permanent site and relocated all the departments there”.
The major problem confronting the hospital is the high cost of generating power to function its equipment and laboratories which is put at N200million every six months. “The power situation here is so pathetic that the three giant power plants here run on shifts of morning, afternoon and night and that guzzles a lot of diesel which you know cost a lot of money” a source at the Administration Department said.
Funds which are to be invested in other projects and procurement of more medical facilities are being expended on power generating which is stunting growth in the hospital.
For health facilities in the state, Senator Liyel Imoke, the governor of the state has initiated projects geared towards upgrading the health care facilities in the state, especially those that provide secondary and primary components of the health care needs of the people.
The major plant of the health care delivery has been the construction of general hospitals in each of the eighteen local areas of the state where such were non-existent. Places like Yala, Obanlikwu, Akpabuyo, Obubra, Bekwara which did not have general hospitals now have functional secondary health care facilities.
To implement the state’s policies and programs on primary health Care which is targeted at having a health facility which is less than two miles away to any one in any community in all parts of the state, there is a health post in each village, a health center at the clans level, a primary Health Care Center at each ward level and a comprehensive health center in each of the local government headquarters.
The center attends to such ailments like malaria, antenatal, and such other common ailments prevalent among the people, register births, death and other emergencies. The cases that are beyond the scope of the health centers are referred to the general hospitals “We have over eight hundred health facilities, both primary and secondary across the state to make sure that there is a health facility every five hundred yards to any community across the state”.
Professor Angela OyoIta, the Commissioner for Health told Saturday Vanguard on Thursday morning in Calabar.
by crossriverwatch admin
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