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Manpower shortage, decaying infrastructure threaten Yar’adua Hospital

Many challenges bedevilling the popular Umaru Yar’adua Hospital in Niger State are affecting the quality of health services offered at the hospital. The hospital when fully operational will be of immense help to accident victims and people requiring emergency health services.

Some buildings of the hospital are decaying because it was last renovated a long time ago. There are obsolete operational equipment and shortage of personnel at the hospital.

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Located at Sabon-Wuse Town along the Abuja-Kaduna Highway in Tafa Local Government Area of the state, the hospital was commissioned along with two other hospitals, one in each of the three senatorial zones of the state, during the Muazu Babangida Aliyu administration in 2010.

Daily Trust learnt that out of the three hospitals, the Umaru Yar’adua Hospital remains the busiest because of its location. The kind of services the hospital offers, coupled with the affordable rates, have endeared patients to it and they troop to the hospital from different parts of Niger and other neighbouring states like Kogi, Kaduna, Nassarawa and the FCT.

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However, the public recognition accorded the hospital seems to be on trial at the moment as the hospital is overwhelmed with crowds of patients and declining number of personnel.

Almost all the building blocks visited in the vast fenced land of the facility are in dire need of renovation. For example, one of the doors of the theatre has to remain open all the time to serve as a pillar holding the frame of one of the walkway shades.

Patients are also wheeled to the admission wards from the theatre under rain or sunshine as the zinc of most of the erected walkway shades and the theatre room have been ripped off. A suck away facility adjacent to the laboratory has also collapsed. The hospital still maintains its single ambulance allocated since when it was commissioned.

The hospital which was commissioned with 10 medical doctors is currently struggling with only six, while the number of nurses and midwives that was 55 is now 46.

There are also complaints of non-promotion of some deserving staff since 2016, while those that have been promoted are yet to see its reflection in their salaries. The hospital which also treats accident victims regularly no longer enjoys the state government’s funding to run its mega power generator and providing chemicals for embalmment at its mortuary, among others.

A staff of the hospital said, “The previous administration used to allocate some funds to the hospital every month, but the gesture was stopped within three months after the present state administration took over.”

Another staff of the hospital revealed that operations at the HIV Care Department which was run by an NGO in collaboration with the hospital management had stopped for a long time.

Some community leaders interviewed spoke about the enormous contribution of the hospital to the lives of the people, but added that government needed to urgently intervene to tackle the challenges of the hospital for effective service delivery.

A senior official of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) in the area told our reporter during a visit to their unit headquarters located between Sabon-Wuse and Tafa towns, said officials of the organisation took accident victims to the facility.

“We convey accident victims from far areas like Jere and even Rijana which is closer to Kaduna,” he said.

A medical doctor in the hospital explained that a number of accident victims had been brought there but that they had to refer them to other hospitals after preliminary medical attention because of lack of needed equipment.

He said both the state and federal governments should intervene in upgrading the hospital considering its strategic location.

When contacted, the Niger State Government said although it established the hospital, there was an arrangement between it and the FCT, as well as the Kaduna State Government on its maintenance.

It said the facility was supposed to serve as a corridor hospital to take care of the health emergencies not only of Nigerlites, but other Nigerians who plied the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway, especially accident victims.

In an interview with Daily Trust on the state of the facility, the Permanent Secretary in the Niger State Ministry of Heath, Dr. Muhammad Muhammad Makusidi, further explained that apart from accident victims, there was an understanding between the aforementioned stakeholders that the facility be jointly maintained to also cater for the health needs of communities on the border between Kaduna, Niger and FCT.

He said so far, both the Kaduna State Government and the FCTA had failed to reach out and consistently reneged on the agreement.

Dr. Makusidi, however, explained that despite the attitude of the other stakeholders, Niger had no intention of abandoning the hospital, especially having committed millions of naira to establishing it and also providing the necessary manpower for its day-to-day running.

He, however, said because of lean resources and the enormity of the decay the present administration inherited, it decided to approach the issue of quality healthcare delivery in phases through an articulated “Health Restoration Agenda” beginning from primary healthcare hospitals in 274 focal facilities across the state with occasional interventions in other tiers.

According to him, the effort had culminated in the recent launching of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) to take care of health issues at the PHC level, while focus on the secondary and tertiary sections, beginning from facility rehabilitation and upgrade, was about to commence in the second phase of the restoration agenda.

To achieve this, he noted that the state just launched BHCPF to take care of health issues at the PHC level.

On personnel, he explained that the facility had enough manpower to tackle the challenges on ground but that recruitment had stagnated for many years before the present administration.

He said to address the manpower shortage in the sector generally, the state government had recently employed over 500 health personnel, including doctors, and also recruited midwives for the 274 wards across the state.

He also pointed out that Niger was one of few states to pay health workers 100 per cent CONHESS/CONMESS, and that the state would soon to commence a Health Insurance Scheme to further make health services affordable and accessible.

He equally described the allegation of drug shortage at the facility as laughable, adding that the ministry had maintained an effective supply chain even in the hard-to-reach areas.

According to him, the present administration had established a drug management agency charged with the purchase, storage and distribution of drugs to every part of the state.

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