By AbuSatar Hamed
AKURE: The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The world body also conceives health as the ability of a biological system to acquire, convert, allocate, distribute and utilise energy with maximum efficiency.
Armed with the above definitions, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) rolled up his sleeves to introduce pragmatic policies and initiatives with the sole purpose of building a strong healthcare system aimed at promoting the general wellbeing of the people of Ondo State, as well as serve as the foundation for the all-round development of the state.
Because of his belief in the faultless agelong maxim that “health is wealth,” the governor has broken down the barriers that had hitherto drawn back the progress of the Sunshine State to create a virile platform for comprehensive development, physical growth and social security of the entire state.
Amid approbation by the people of Ondo State, Akeredolu had in 2017 flagged off the polio national immunization exercise at the state specialist hospital, Akure, to give assurance of a healthy, fruitful and productive energy to future generations.
Right before the dignitaries who attended the occasion, including the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, senior government functionaries, religious leaders, representatives of non-governmental organisations and chairmen of the 18 local government areas, among others, Akeredolu vowed that his administration would ensure that polio is kicked out of the state.
Consequently, the governor directed that machinery should be put in place to ensure that all eligible children were reached by vaccinators for the immunization exercise.
From the available record, measles, described as deadly disease, kills no fewer than 800,000 children globally every year. It was for this reason that Akeredolu waged a virulent war against the deadly infectious disease.
So, the 2018 edition of the war against measles, according to watchers of governmental activities in Ondo State, achieved a reverberating success, as about 700, 000 children between the ages of nine months and five years were immunized against the disease.
Ondo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, reiterated the success recorded from the vaccination exercise. He was excited that none of the 203 political wards in the state was left unvisited in the campaign against the measles eradication.
The State Specialist Hospitals in Akure and Ondo city also got a huge dose of Akeredolu’s intervention as he upgraded the two health facilities to teaching hospitals. To make the environment of the specialist hospital, Akure, more conducive and friendly, all the bad roads within the hospital were equally fixed and asphalted.
In what looks like democratising funding of healthcare delivery, Akeredolu has unveiled the state’s contributory health scheme as part of plans aimed at giving quality healthcare delivery system to the residents. The idea behind the contributory healthcare scheme, according to the governor, was to pool fund from the citizens and use it to procure medicare service to those who needed it.
Akeredolu had said: “A greater percentage of our indigenes find it very difficult to access good health care largely due to poverty. Qualitative health care lies within the reach of the rich, leaving the poor to helpless and hopeless. It is on record that many have gone to the great beyond before their time because of this.
“As part of our commitment to the health of people of the state who massively voted for us, the Bill on this Contributory Health Scheme was signed into Law on 6th February, 2018, barely within 72 hours of our arrival in office.”
No doubt, all residents of the Sunshine State, irrespective of their religious and political proclivities are bound to benefit in no small measure from the scheme whose major intentions are to protect and guarantee the poor and the vulnerable physical access to quality and affordable healthcare services, among others.
Aware that the provision of accessible and qualitative healthcare and social service would not be complete without qualified personnel to drive the novel idea, the governor mandated the state Ministry of Health to recruit more medical workers.
Akeredolu’s approval for the recruitment of more health workers came during his quarterly meeting with members of the State Task Force on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunisation in Akure. The governor wanted the new health workers to replace retiring medical personnel and enhance the delivery of medical services.
A further quest to place Ondo State in the global healthy community has yielded fruitful results following the governor’s move to secure a $6 million (about N2.1 billion) worth of new medical equipment from MedShare, a United States-based non-profit organisation in Atlanta. Akeredolu ordered the 20 container loads of the new medical equipment from MedShare to strengthen the state’s healthcare sector. A few months after the state governor partnered with MedShare, Ondo State secured up to 50 container loads of equipment to equip all its hospitals and health centres with new state-of-art medical facilities.
So, it was a celebration galore on June 24, 2019 at the Central Medical Store, Akure, when Akeredolu flagged-off the distribution of the first batch of the state-of-the-art biomedical equipment to all the health facilities in the state. The four containers offloaded as of the time the governor distributed the equipment and other consumables contained over 250 sophisticated electric bed, 50 stretchers, intensive care unit beds and monitors, delivery beds, surgical instruments, incubators and infusion pumps, among others.
The attempt to ensure that no part of the Sunshine State is shortchanged in accessing the robust healthcare services gave birth to the move to approve five additional Mother and Child Hospitals for the three senatorial districts of the state.
This is besides the introduction of free healthcare service for expectant mothers and children from age zero to five years.
Critical observers labeled the various pro-health initiatives put forward by Akeredolu as laudable and the right step. Mr. Kayode Sule, a lecturer with the Federal College of Agriculture, Akure, and Mrs. Olayinka Aderigbe, a private health practitioner based in the Southern Senatorial District of the state, scored the governor high.
They both expressed the strong belief that with the governor’s dream of creating all-round development through investment in the health sector, Ondo State is unarguably set to tread the path of industrial growth. The observers hinged their belief on the fact that a healthy man is an undisputable asset for the development of his community. According to them, the multiplier effects of Akeredolu’s deliberate investment in the Sunshine State health sector will be unquantifiable.