By Dorothy Laruba Onoja, Ministry of Health, Kogi State
When Governor Yahaya Bello assumed office as the Executive Governor of Kogi State in 2016, it became evident that the state needed rapid development to catch up with other states created alongside it in 1991.
Governor Bello wasted no time and immediately set his sights on the development of the state. With determination and pragmatism, he assembled a team of like-minded individuals who shared his vision for the state’s future.
The blueprint for development took into account various vital sectors, with a particular focus on the health sector, which ranked second only to education in terms of importance. The administration identified key areas of intervention, including leadership and governance, service delivery, drugs and medical supplies, technology, health financing, health management information systems, health infrastructure and medical equipment, human resources for health, and partnerships for health.
To ensure optimal functioning, the administration made sure that health agencies and parastatals had fully constituted management structures and boards.
Under Governor Bello’s leadership, the state continued to provide comprehensive healthcare services, including community-driven interventions and referrals when necessary. The administration also took proactive measures to control public health emergencies through various intervention programs. This included the establishment of a public health emergency operation center to coordinate outbreak responses and other emergency situations. Additionally, treatment centers for diseases such as Lassa fever and other infectious diseases were established.
The progress made in the health sector of Kogi State is a testament to Governor Bello’s commitment to improving the well-being of its citizens. Through strategic planning, effective governance, and partnerships, the state has achieved remarkable milestones in healthcare delivery.
As we celebrate this mission accomplished, we look forward to further advancements and continued dedication to the health and well-being of the people of Kogi State. Similarly, Kogi State has been certified as polio-free due to the concerted efforts of the Ministry’s coordination activities involving all stakeholders, including partners. The government has also established a Drugs and Medical Supplies Management Agency to ensure the availability and distribution of high-quality drugs and medical consumables.
Furthermore, the governor’s decision to exempt drugs from taxes has significantly contributed to the affordability of medications for patients within the hospital, setting it apart from other pharmaceutical options outside. Additionally, the present administration has provided financial assistance to indigenous individuals in need of medical care both within Nigeria and abroad.
In terms of healthcare financing, the Kogi State government has consistently surpassed the national budget, demonstrating its commitment to improving healthcare services. The implementation of health insurance in the state, marked by the introduction of the Bellocare equity fund, aims to cater to vulnerable groups such as children under five, women, the elderly, people with disabilities, and the poorest of the poor.
Governor Bello’s dedication to enhancing health infrastructure and medical equipment is evident through the establishment of exceptional facilities. Notably, the Okene Reference Hospital stands as one of the world’s finest medical institutions, equipped with state-of-the-art technologies. This includes 1.6 dialysis machines, some of which possess life support systems, a 1.5 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine, a Computer Tomography (CT) scanner, an oxygen generating plant, and the only hospital-based Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber in Africa. Additionally, the hospital boasts a modern digital mammography system.
Through these remarkable advancements, Kogi State has emerged as a global leader in medical facilities, providing its residents with access to cutting-edge technologies and superior healthcare services.
The modern operating theatre is equipped with state-of-the-art anaesthetic machines, complemented by advanced and basic life support ambulances. The new administration has placed a significant emphasis on the health workforce, striving to achieve a functional balance in terms of both numbers and skill mix.
Furthermore, the government has undertaken a recruitment exercise, resulting in the employment of over two thousand workers across various categories within the healthcare sector in 2018. The training and retraining of all healthcare workers in the state have also received the necessary attention from the government, ensuring effective delivery of healthcare services.
To meet the health needs of the people, the Kogi state government has established partnerships with various organizations. These collaborations have enabled the government to address the health requirements of its citizens effectively.
Considering these remarkable achievements, it is evident that Governor Yahaya Bello has given utmost priority to the health sector. Under his transformative leadership, the health sector has witnessed an unprecedented transformation, surpassing any previous records in history.
In conclusion, the modernization of the operating theatre, the recruitment of skilled healthcare professionals, and the commitment to training and retraining demonstrate the government’s dedication to improving healthcare services in Kogi state. Governor Yahaya Bello’s visionary leadership has undoubtedly propelled the health sector to new heights, leaving a lasting impact on the lives of the people he serves.