By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Chief Medical Director of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH), Prof Ememabasi Bassey has said that COVID-19 has impacted positively on Nigeria’s healthcare system.
This is besides the negative socio-economic effects that the country suffered during the pandemic as a result of the nationwide lockdown.
Prof Bassey said the lockdown which prevented highly placed Nigerians from embarking on medical tourism, has created the need to look inwards to develop the nation’s healthcare system.
In a chat with newsmen in Uyo on Monday, the CMD who recalled that critical surgeries hitherto conducted outside the country were successfully done within, pointed out that Nigeria is blessed with talented medical experts.
He told newsmen that the present federal government has made more releases and investment in medical infrastructure than any other regime in recent decades.
To confirm this, Prof Bassey who conducted newsmen round the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital acknowledged receipt of the sum of N859 million funds released by the federal government to execute key COVID-19 intervention projects and programmes.
“The present federal government has invested in medical infrastructure than any other in the last couple of decades. For instance, during the pandemic last year, the Federal Government released funds to the management of the hospital Uyo today in open a modular testing laboratory and other projects that could help in combating the virus.”
He said the hospital has in the place of the 10 bedded intensive care unit provided for, achieved 16 bedded ICU, fully equipped with laboratory, mobile X-ray and mobile ultrasound scan. “It also has a paediatric/neonatal intensive care unit.”
“The projects provided for include: establishment of molecular laboratory, procurement of personal protective equipment, establishment of isolation centre and establishment of a 10 bedded Intensive Care Unit
“PPEs during the peak of COVID-19 skyrocketed. Before COVID-19, a carton of facemask sold for 25,000, but, at the height of Covid-19, I bought that for about N600,000, we could not even find it.
“That money was meant to allow us function. Before COVID-19, we had one molecular laboratory for HIV and hepatitis and we cannot mix. We had a building; we now tried to do an expansion. When the inspection team came, they rejected that, that the molecular laboratory requires a certain flow, so we had to build. As we speak, that centre has been accredited by NCDC.
The first time they came we had an issue, then they came back for accreditation. We are just waiting for them to come back for activation.
“For the 10 bedded ICU, I had an ICU, but it was a bit of a sorry sight. we had to totally renovate the building and against 10, we ended up having a 16 bedded ICU. That ICU is the best in the Soouth South of this country,” he said.
The CMD who was in company with the Hospital’s Head of Works, Arc Ute Abang and other key management staff of the institution, said he was working on completing between six to eight major projects for inaguration before the end of the year.
He assured that due diligence were followed in all contract award and execution both on the COVID-19 intervention projects and other ongoing projects inherited at various levels of completion.
“Federal government contract has a procurement process, which you must get right or you go on for it. It has an open bidding process and contract awarded. For ICU, you must have done a contract on a similar project; must be able to guarantee service and maintenance.
“Almost all the buildings we met on ground are ongoing. The GOPD, completed and furnish. I make bold to say that there is no government hospital that has a better GOPD in this country than ours.
“We have completed the radio diagnostics (CT Scan) building. The laboratory block which we met at the earthing level, has been completed though it may not be ready for commissioning.The molecular laboratory building has been completed and fully equipped, awaiting commissioning.” He said
The Teaching Hospital which has also transformed itsore than 25-year old entrance and has constructed several internal roads said it had to convert its 24- room, four suites private wing amenity ward into an isolation centre, a sacrifice which the CMD said has led to loss of N5m every month in terms of bed fees.
“The hospital expanded a lot faster than infrastructure, and we are therefore working to meet up. We are currently embarking on a water expansion.project. We met the water capacity between 30,000- 40,000; now targeting 200,000, so.far we have achieved over 100,000 liters daily.
“The Intensive Care Unit has been commissioned. trying to implement the hospital management information system, an enterprise resource management system. It would cover our collection in terms of revenue, with telemedicine and electronic medical records as some of its components. That has helped us to block leakages and increase our Internally generated revenue.
“We are expecting the Health Minister to visit the hospital before the end of the year to commission not less than 6-8 projects”. he said
Also s peaking on recent progress in the Teaching Hospital, the HOD, Medical Biology, Dr Agantem Ekuma said the hospital has recorded significant strides in recent months.
“Following the release of COVID-19 intervention funds, we were able to erect a new block and set up a PCR laboratory for Covid-19 testing. That took just about six months. NCDC teams have been here twice, and so far the feedbacks have been positive. We are awaiting final activation. We have so far purchased lots of laboratory equipment within the last one yea,” he said.