By Akinloluwa Akinbode.
The palpable fear of the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 was and is still a worldwide concern, as the world recorded one of its highest and most severe mortality rates by a virus known to be spreading as fast as the wind.
On 27th February, 2020, the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health affirmed the first case in Lagos, being the epicentre and just a distance of about 130 kilometres to Ibadan, the state capital of Oyo State.
The announcement raised a major source of concern and sent fears down the spine of many, while neighbouring southwestern states and other states across federation started declaring total lockdown of economic and social activities. While it was a total lockdown in other states, Gov. Seyi Makinde, in his usual considerate nature proposed only a partial lockdown in Oyo State, providing for near-normal economic and social activities, to weather the storm of the adverse effect of the country’s economy, thus, ensuring sustenance and survival of lives, businesses and homes.
Not long after, Oyo State also started recording high number of cases, after Lagos, but the level of commitment and containment by the front line Health workers and the state government is nothing short of appraisal.
My major concerns centred on facilities on ground to accommodate, quarantine and treat confirmed cases, number of personnels and the level of preparedness and responsiveness by the state task force team, headed by the Governor in containing such epidemic that had manifested itself in various forms and variants over the few years.
It is noteworthy to state that; here in Oyo State, there was no “functional ambulance” owned by the state government to ferry critically sick persons, not to talk of an emergency response ambulance to attend to people in cases of emergency in transit.
Within a few weeks, the State government purchased 10 new ambulances through the Ministry of Health, with three specialised ambulances for intensive care units and seven for each zone of the state, to ensure the spread and touch of government across the zones to support emergency response, so also, the setting up of isolation centres, ventilators and provision of free testing centres across the state. The government also ensured the creation of a rapid response and monitoring department in the 33 Local governments and 35 LCDAs.
With the conviction of Governor Seyi Makinde that primary healthcare and health insurance scheme are concepts to be adopted by the administration to achieve its policy in healthcare, efforts of the administration in renovating and remodelling three hundred and fifty one primary health centres across the state to suit present day standards of health care centres, fully equipped with modern equipments, medicine and uninterrupted power supply, aimed at ensuring that the poor and vulnerable people in Oyo State have access to free and qualitative medical care.
Oyo state government, under the leadership of H.E., Gov Seyi Makinde, did not just limit his precautionary and curative measures to state facilities, the government at intervals donated sums of money, equipments and entrusted ambulances to the University College Hospital UCH, Ibadan, to enhance the fight against COVID-19 and other needs, being a major tertiary health facility, not just for the state, but the entire southwestern region. Recently, the Governor donated a fully equipped ambulance to Oyo State Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps FRSC.
Last year, the state government through the Oyo State Hospitals Management Board recruited 500 medical personnels, ranging from; Doctors, Dentists, Nurses, Physiotherapists and so on to fill the lacunae and dearth of health officers of state owned hospitals across the zones of the state, and a pending recruitment process for the Primary Health Centres PHCs across the 351 wards of the state.
There is also a responsive channel to report acts of exploitation or negligence by health officers to the appropriate quarters.
With these unprecedented feats, transformation and more in just 3 years, I can state unequivocally that Oyo state has attained a new realm in the health sector.
Every life and well-being of our people matters to Gov. Seyi Makinde.
Akinloluwa writes from Egbeda.