The Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, has revealed plans to turn the State into Nigeria’s top destination for medical tourism as a means of attracting thousands of Nigerians who travel to other countries, including India, thereby boosting the economies of those countries.
“As part of our Delta Beyond Oil (agenda) we are looking at areas of tourism and one area of tourism is medical tourism,” the governor said while speaking on the State’s health sector on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.
Uduaghan, who said his administration is making efforts at ensuring the welfare of the people in regards to their health, stressed that the human capital development agenda under his administration’s 3 point agenda covers three sub sectors, health, education and empowerment.
“Being the former commissioner for health, I had a fair idea of the status of our health. When I left, I became the SSG but while still the SSG, I had my eyes on the health sector. Now that I became a governor, so I had a fair idea of what we intended to achieve.”
He further stated that his administration placed emphasis on “improving the primary healthcare, deal majorly with secondary healthcare and also lay some emphasis on tertiary healthcare.”
In dealing with the primary healthcare, focus was on killer diseases and maternal and children mortality
According to the governor, the two major challenges faced in the sector, at the grassroots level, are ignorance and poverty.
“A lot of our people do not take health as priority, so nobody keeps money in case you have a health challenge so that when the health challenge comes up, you see people running around for money. When they don’t have money, they easily resort to quacks.”
“We tried as much as possible to see how we can assist people at that level in dealing with their health issues by making sure that the cost of health at that level is not too much… That is why we had our free maternal healthcare services. that’s why we had our free under 5 healthcare service, a lot of immunization issues, a lot of our rural healthcare programme were free. That was also combined with education to deal with the issue of ignorance.”
He also spoke on tttempts made the government at encouraging Nigerians to patronise local hospitals for advanced health problems. In addressing issues of advanced health problems, “we needed to deal with infrastrusture, equipment and personnel to run those facilities,” he said.
“So far, we have tried to deal with the infrastructure in some of the hospitals” including 6 specialist hospitals.
“In the number of years that I’ve been the governor, we have tried to improve on the equipment in those hospitals and we are still dealing with the infrastructure.”
Asked about some abandoned projects, especially the Nkoyo Ibori Children’s Medical Centre located at Agbarho road, the governor explained that the centre “was built by the wife of my predecessor” and “was not a government project.”
“That was the pet project of Mrs Nkoyo Ibori which did not take off because the way the hospital was planned and its location affected its taking-off.
“It’s not a government hospital, it’s a private one but what we are trying to do as a state government is to take over the facility,” the governor stated, insisting that “I would not advise anybody to run it as a hospital because I don’t think it’s well located and the concept was not properly articulated.”
He highlighted challenges being faced in getting citizens in need of medical attention to visit the primary healthcare centres often instead of the tertiary hospitals.
“In those tertiary healthcare hospitals, you cannot prevent people generally going to them. So what you do in such places is to create a unit called the family healthcare unit as part of that tertiary hospital, where people go for first attendance in the hospital.”