A first time visitor to any government hospital in major cities of Nigerian cannot but appreciate the enormity of health care needs of Nigerians. Although the health needs of Nigerians are similar, irrespective of where they reside, the reverse is the case in terms of hospital attendance in the rural areas.
Little wonder the people of Sepeteri, a community in Saki East Local Government of Oyo State, were thrilled by Federal Government’s presence in the community to resuscitate and revitalise the UCH Comprehensive Health Centre. What is best described as a resolve to take tertiary health care to the grassroots, and ensure better health index for the country.
UCH Comprehensive health Centre, Sepeteri is one of the several health centres established by the then health minister, Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti and the facilities were to be affiliated to designated teaching hospitals. Comprehensive Health Centre, Sepeteri, then became an extension of University College Hospital UCH, Ibadan.
“The Comprehensive Health Centre was at a time abandoned and usually people that need specialist medical care had to be referred to hospitals such as UCH. At times because of the closeness of the town to the border, some travelled to neighbouring country to assess care,” retorted Chief Bamidele Dada, a Sepeteri community leader and one time Minister of Agriculture.
The centre, which reverted to Government Hospital Sepeteri, in a bid to make it functional, he said, used to be a beehive for people in Northern part of Oyo State seeking tertiary care.
The agrarian community, he said, was faced with health challenges such as cataract and snake bite.
“Sometimes ago, we got the Saki East Local Government to take people with cataract to UCH Ibadan to have their eye operated. So many people because of cataract are not able to go about their daily duties. Unfortunately, many people with cataract Could not go for this surgery and as such the need for this centre to now include eye treatment.
“We are happy the facility will now have a new look and will be managed by UCH. There would be experts on ground and some more will be trained.”
That Federal Government was concerned about the plight of people in the rural areas was obvious from the presence of the Board of Management of University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State, led by Colonel Austin Akobundu, Vice chancellor of University of Ibadan, College of Medicine provost, Professor Segun Akinyinka, Oyo State Government representative, Dr Akande and a host of many important dignitaries.
Colonel Akobundu said “our visit is a confirmation that the mandate we were given by President Goodluck Jonathan and the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu was not just to cities but also the rural areas where we have affiliated government institutions.”
“We will do everything within the ambit of law and provisions available to ensure the hospital are turned around within the shortest possible time.”
While asking for cooperation of the community and well-being of health workers to be posted to the health facility, he said “we will make sure this place becomes a first class medical centre that will provide quality health care services.”
Chief Medical Director, UCH, Professor Temitope Alonge, remarking that UCH started the move to repossess and make the hospital more functional about two years back, declared that the new look UCH Comprehensive Health Centre, Sepeteri would equally house snake treatment centre as well as serve as a training ground for community health experts.
With the community’s contribution of N500, 000, N1 million from Chief Bamidele Dada and well as the Honourable Hosea Agboola’s contribution of N300 million constituency project fund to revitalise the centre, he assured that repair work would soon commence at the hospital.
Declaring “With the visit of the Board of Management of UCH to see firsthand the condition at the comprehensive health centre, its frame work and what needs to be done,” he said the working of the hospital was going to be a collaborative one.
According to him, “in this collaboration, UCH, Ibadan will be sending in nurses and doctors as well as repair the facilities to make them work and Oyo State government will be buying a generating set for the centre. Aside supplying diesel monthly, the local government council will also help maintain the lawns.”
Mr Niyi Olabiyi, Chairman Saki East Local Government, while assuring of the continuous commitment of the local government council, stated that the council had commenced sensitisation on the new look UCH Comprehensive Health Centre, Sepeteri as well as the facilities that will be available to ensure they benefit.
“They need to know that some ailments can be treated in the hospital and as such they need not travel outside the community or to border towns,” Mr Olabiyi said
Mr Olabiyi, who remarked that this was an addition to several interventions to improve the welfare of the people in the community by the government added that the visit of a mobile clinic from Oyo State government is also being expected to offer healthcare at people’s doorsteps.
No doubt, sustaining the revitalised UCH Comprehensive Health Centre, Sepeteri is achievable. “When the cost of care is affordable people will come. With a revolving funds scheme in place, as expected in a primary health care facility, this will keep the place running. That has been our experience at the Otunba Tunwase Community Health Facility,’’ said Professor Folasade Omokhodion, head Department of Community Medicine
Professor Omokhodion declared: “Definitely, a strong community mobilisation is required to ensure improved patronage. The involvement of community and association leaders to mobilise people is very important in an area such as this.”
Conversely, “major reason for low patronage of any facility is he to lack of manpower and or non availability of drugs. But now that the health facility is being taken over fully, all those issues will be addressed holistically and as such patronage is bound to increase, “said Dr Bose Adediran, a board member from the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja.
Little wonder, Dr Oluwole Oyewunmi, the medical officer currently working at the centre could not but look to better days ahead for this facility where majorly the diseases he attends to are malaria and enteric fever.
Although services at the hospital is incapacitated by the dilapidated condition of facilities and no functional ambulance to convey patients on emergency, among others, Dr Oyewunmi, as well as the other eight nurses, one laboratory technologist and a pharmacy technician presently working in the hospital are indeed looking ahead to better days in carrying out their passion- providing quality care to their clients.