By Ali Abare
Since his assumption of office nearly a year ago, Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has used every available opportunity to lament the apparent decay and obvious neglect of the public health sector, not only in the state but in the entire country.
This, Engineer Sule once more highlighted while speaking as a guest on a nationwide programme on NTA recently, when he argued that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, has given Nigeria an opportunity to think twice and do the needful, and to rejuvenate the abandoned health sector.
When it comes to healthcare, the entire leadership of the country didn’t give attention much to healthcare services, that is the reason why we are having what we are having today,” he stated.
According to the Governor, the outbreak of the coronavirus, has more than anything else, exposed the rotten underbelly of the country’s public health sector, with both the federal and state governments now rushing to mobilize both human resources and capital to try to meet up with the unfolding challenge.
Corroborating this stance on the issue, Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, while fielding questions from journalists on the preparedness of the country to treat COVID-19 patients, said Nigeria does not have enough medical equipment needed to stabilise a respiratory distressed patient.
In fact, recent findings showed that in Nigeria, a country of over 200m people, only 3000 persons are being tested for the virus daily, out of a probable 5000, with the entire country boosting of only 169 ventilators in 16 states.
“Instead of crying foul over all the challenges, we should put heads together to confront our common enemy,” Engineer Sule emphasized.
Indeed, that is exactly what the Governor has been doing since the outbreak of the pandemic, putting heads together and taking every conceivable step towards curbing the spread of the coronavirus in Nasarawa State.
“It’s unfortunate that Nigeria was caught unawares and it’s unfortunate that you can say that this particular pandemic has given Nigeria an opportunity now to think twice, that this is the time not to abandon the healthcare sector,” a forthright and sincere Engineer Sule stated.
The Governor said he is doing even more than some of the states that have patients who tested positive to the virus because every time there is an increase in the number of infected persons in the FCT, it serves as motivation to want to do more in order to control and contain the spread of the pandemic.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Engineer Sule has been confronting headlong, the obvious lack of facilities and equipment to actually fight the pandemic.
The Nasarawa State Government is expediting action towards completing the State Centre for Disease Control at the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH), initiated by the previous administration of Senator Umaru Tanko Al-makura.
“We are using this opportunity to expedite the completion of that project.
“It was not a priority when we came in but you can see now, nearly in every state. We are in the process of completing that, with lots of partnership and support that we are getting from development partners, as well as the state government itself,” the Governor said.
If indeed Nasarawa State was lucky to have a leader with not only the vision but political will to turn things around for the better, in the person of Engineer Sule, then for sure, Nasarawa is twice lucky to have a renown medical doctor, in the person of Dr. Emmanuel Akabe, as Deputy Governor.
In this respect, Nasarawa State is at a little advantage than other states, especially with Dr. Akabe heading the State COVID-19 Task Force.
“I think and we are lucky. Our Deputy Governor happens to be a medical doctor.
“The first thing he did was to look round all these facilities to see, his concern was the personnel, the manpower, do we have the right nurses? Do we have the right technicians? Do we have the right people who will be trained? If not, can we start training them? Can we bring in people?
“We are lucky with that. I don’t think every state had that opportunity. He has done wonderfully well,” Engineer Sule explained.
On much needed equipment and facility to ensure the provision for adequate treatment of coronavirus patients when it arises, the administration of Engineer Sule is not leaving anything to chances as it put in place necessary measures to protect the people of the state.
“At the onset of this pandemic, the entire country has five test centres. Today, you can see more and more centres that are being created.
“Most of the country didn’t have ventilators, most of the states, it’s today that we are doing that. We have already ordered for lots of equipment that are coming, especially the PPAs. We are getting lots of donations for some of them, and we are buying a lot also on our own,” he stated.
Even as the state strategizes to control, contain and fight the spread of the dreaded pandemic, one thing is certain, with Engineer Sule at the wheels, the public health sector in Nasarawa State will never be the same again.
Abare is a Special Assistant on Media to His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, Executive Governor of Nasarawa State.