Edo State residents expressed joy when the multi-billion naira reconstructed Central Hospital was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2016, with the hope that it would reduce the pains and suffering experienced by patients in the course of accessing healthcare in the state.
But 20 months after, residents are worried that not a single patient has been treated at the hospital built with such huge amount of tax payers’ money.
Our reporter who visited the reconstructed hospital observed that it is still under lock and keys while the equipment are wasting away.
Shortly after the commissioning, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), alleged that the equipment installed in the hospital were taken from the existing Stella Obasanjo Women and Children Hospital to hasting inauguration of the project.
While the allegation lasted, Governor Godwin Obaseki announced that the state government was seeking Public Private Partnership (PPP) to put the hospital to use for effective service delivery.
Meanwhile, residents who spoke to our reporter lamented that the 200-bed hospital is yet to commence operation after almost two years of commissioning.
Besides, President Buhari, while commissioning the hospital, said “I think this is the best thing Oshiomhole did for the people of the state. I respect the sacrifice of his personal comfort that instead of building a new government house he decided to build this hospital.”
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, on his part, said the decision to reconstruct the hospital stemmed from the commitment of his administration to invest in the medical care of the people of the state and reduce medical tourism.
“I felt that rather than doing piecemeal renovation, we needed to build a complete new hospital so we demolished a portion of the one that was done in 1902 to build a new hospital,” but the Edo State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dan Orbih, who took a swipe at the government, said the hospital was a complete waste of public fund as it has not been put to use.
Orbih alleged that it was just the accident and emergency unit of the Central Hospital that was reconstructed with billions of tax payers’ money.
“There were no equipment at the hospital. Oshiomhole had moved those at the Stella Obasanjo Hospital there to deceive President Muhammadu Buhari to commission it,” he said.
He said Governor Godwin Obaseki had said that the state government would partner private firms to equip the hospital when the fund needed to equip the hospital had been provided for in the original contract for the construction of the hospital.
“There is nothing in the hospital; if not why are they not operating it after almost two years of commissioning? No single patient has been treated at the hospital. Oshiomhole used it to deceive the people,” he concluded.
A resident, who gave his name as Osasuwa, said the hospital is supposed to cater for the health needs of the people but that has not happened.
He lamented that it is lying fallow while patients, in some occasions, are referred to Stella Obasanjo Children Hospital due to shortage of space at the old Central Hospital. “Tax payers’ money have been wasted. It would have been better if the money was put to other use. At least, government should tell the people what is preventing the so-called five star hospital from being operational,” he said.
As the allegations and counter allegations raged on, the firm which was awarded the contract to supply equipment for the hospital, Vamed Engineering, through its spokesperson, Anthony Azodo, this month said all equipment and office furniture have been supplied and installed to full capacity at the hospital.
But despite the good news, there is another hurdle which may prevent the hospital from being put to use soon. Azodo warned that some of “the equipment have a duration of two years to wear out if not put into use.”
Daily Trust Saturday learnt that Azodo’s clarification was in reaction to a street protest by some NGOs, demanding explanation on why the hospital was still under lock and key two years after it was commissioned.
Azodo said the hospital has been equipped. They are waiting for personnel that will use them. We have written several memos to the Edo State government to get personnel to handle various machines.
“We are still waiting for them to be trained. You have seen the equipment in their numbers. Most of you checked your blood pressure with them. People are saying things for their selfish interest.”
He explained that the equipment came in batches and that majority of them were installed last year and early this year, adding that 100 percent of the equipment in the bill of quantity have been installed.
“Among the equipment installed is the mammography used for diagnosing and locating tumours of the breast otherwise known as breast cancer.”
Azodo explained that the hospital was not fully equipped as at the time it was commissioned because of the sudden rise in the price of dollar.
He also debunked allegation by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party that equipment in the new hospital were brought in from the Stella Obasanjo Hospital, saying that equipment in the new hospital were new and different.
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said the government has a robust healthcare delivery plan for the hospital and people of the state
“Government categorized healthcare in the state into primary, secondary and tertiary. It has started with the development of primary and secondary healthcare and the Central Hospital is being developed to serve the tertiary healthcare needs.”
He said as soon as the plan is completed, the old Central Hospital will be moved to Stella Obasanjo Hospital to provide secondary care to patients.
“Government wants to run Central Hospital on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis. We are bringing investors and several of them have come to look at it but we are yet to come to agreement on which private organisation should run it and the way and manner it should be run,” he said.
“The hospital is fully equipped and any right thinking government would think of sustainability of the project and not just running it because if you start running it without a sustainability plan, it is only a matter of time before it goes comatose. The PPP would ensure its sustainability, functioning, and efficiency,” he said.
Crusoe explained that the hospital would be affordable to the common man because the government is working on a health insurance scheme plan that would capture every Edo person.
He said a law is being drafted by the state to be taken to the assembly to help initiate the scheme, adding “I believe that by the third quarter of next year, the people will begin to see the health policy of this administration taking effect.”