The Healthy State

The popular perception of most Northern states in Nigeria is that of poverty. “In 19 northern states of Nigeria, human development indices showed they are by far poorer than other parts of the country,” Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said in 2015.
And with poverty comes an avalanche of social problems, including a poor health system. But one state, Katsina, is proving the bookmakers wrong, judging from the recent developments in the state’s health sector.
Katsina’s massive engagement with the state’s health sector is quite palpable at the Daura General Hospital in Daura, a town which is about 72km from Katsina, the state capital.
When THISDAY visited, a lot of construction activities were ongoing.
The hospital’s Medical Director, Mohammed Abdulazeez, told this newspaper that 70 per cent of renovation and retrofitting had been completed.
A Radiography Department had been added to the facility, the ward capacity expanded from 150 to 200, and the construction of water fountain roundabout, all completed. The hospital’s entrance gate, too, had been fixed and its fences expanded.
The Outpatient Department, Accident Emergency Unit, Dental and Eye Units and some laboratories had all undergone renovation. A new Paediatric Unit had also been built. “Maternal and child drugs are free,” Abdulazeez said. “Cesarean operation and deliveries are also free at the hospital.”
According to the Medical Director, the hospital’s renovation was divided into three phases, with the entire project 70 per cent completed. “I can authoritatively tell you that we have completed phases one and two while work in phase three is just about to commence,” he said. “Initially, it was just the renovation but lately there were other new buildings that were added to the renovation.”
Abdulazeez also emphasised the progressive nature of the project.
He said: “After renovating the buildings, the wards, the operating theatres, the examination rooms, departments like the Laboratory Department, Radiology Department and the likes, there were also newer buildings that we added. You have the Conference Hall that wasn’t initially there, the main entrance gate wasn’t like this before.
"We have a roundabout there that has water fountain and then, an entirely new Radiology Department which comprises X-rays, Ultra-Sound and other medical equipments.
"Those are additional buildings at the site and they translate to more additional buildings because the initial Radiology Department was converted to another department and that department now is converted into two units. We have the Entrance Stabilisation Services Department. In essence, there is an addition.”
However, the Medical Director admitted challenges were still numerous, especially as they relate to the social and cultural dimension of the community. With Daura sharing boundaries with Niger, about 50 per cent of patients are foreigners.
“Of course they are human beings and we must treat them when they come to our hospital, but they overwhelm our health facilities,” Abdulazeez said.
“Also, some of the patients come to the hospital only when their conditions have become critical.
“That is a very big challenge because you have patients that come they are so exhausted and you can hardly differentiate the patient from the relatives. This increases our mortality rate because when a patient comes to the hospital after being mismanaged by local quacks, chances of survival are slim.
“We would have expected some form of first aid given to them before they come to us,” Abdulazeez said. “Most of our patients from Daura are better because they know their health status – they make use of the PHCs. In the environment of course, we are trying to create awareness, but people are used to their traditional beliefs.”

Release Date: 
Wednesday, January 17, 2018