Umahi set to end foreign health tourism, redoubles efforts to unveil world class medical centre, a report of seven days projects tour in Ebonyi State (Part 1)

May 20, 2021
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By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze

It was a pleasant surprise when I got a call from Barr Uchenna Orji, the workaholic Ebonyi State Commissioner of Information, through whom I and the entire world have read much about the magic being ignited by the incumbent Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Nweze Umahi in the State. The call was for me to join him on a project/facility tour of most of the key projects this energetic and visionary leader of this dispensation has achieved in less than six years.

Having heard so much about the gale of projects permeating the nooks and crannies of the once backward state, I quickly took the next available flight to Ebonyi through Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, with a conspicuous enthusiasm to get a first hand information or better still, see things for myself.

On arrival to the State capital, I was spontaneously buzzed with excitement and palpable glee, and on a first thought, I had a covert argument about my whereabouts, but my intuitive awareness of the State’s geography calmed my apprehension to some extent. I told my Chief Host that given the skepticism that has captured my mastery of the terrain, commencing the tour from projects sited in the outskirts of the state capital would douse my sudden muddle and help me regain a conscious grasp of the milieu.

My host quickly understood my predicament and after exchanging pleasantries with some officials of the state government, we went into business.

FIRST DAY OF MY SEVEN DAYS INSPECTION OF THE WONDERS/FEATS BY GOV UMAHI:

We started-off with a visit to Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government area of the State, about 65 km away from Abakaliki, to a project assumed to be the biggest College of Medicine in Africa under construction. The project is the brainchild of the Ebonyi State government under Gov. Umahi. It is being equipped with sophisticated and latest technology and is billed to attract mass medical tourism to Nigeria.

Indeed, change has settled in Ebonyi. Prior to this time, visitors to the state used to refer to Abakaliki as a mere glorified Local Council Area headquarters with a Government House that ranked as the worst countrywide but today Governor Umahi has turned Abakaliki to Dubai of Nigeria. I am not here to talk about Abakaliki as I am yet to have a full glimpse of how a glorified Local Government Area could be turned to one of the best State Capitals in Nigeria.

While in Uburu a small but blessed town and only town in  entire Africa to produce a sitting State Governor (Engr. Dr. David Nweze Umahi) and a Minister of the Federal Republic, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu of the Federal Ministry of Technology and Sciences. I asked my Chief Host if the town is an annex of the State Capital as the town is full of constructed roads with 8′ concrete pavement all over lighted with Street Lights and a gigantic Fly over. Seeing my confused state, workaholic Barr. Orji whom I wonder if he sleeps atal told me that what I am seeing here is replicated in all the major towns of Ebonyi State and I shouted wondering how some Governors do concentrate all the developments of their State in one or two Local Government Areas and even ready to construct eight Flyovers in one single Road!!

At the site of our main visit, this was not only amazing, again, I was forced to ask myself whether I was in a trance, or if my friend the Honourable commissioner had cast a spell on me or age was catching up with me; and many more.

Even the serious sick coming in contact with the array of infrastructure on display there is bound to get better without further medical examination.

From the records presented to me by the Governor’s Senior Special Assistant SSA on Medical Services. Dr Richard Chukwuka Nnabu,  “the Medical College after completion, will have centres of excellence in cancer management, kidney transplant with dialysis centre, liver transplant, and other diseases. It will have the latest diagnostic equipment that can be rated amongst the best anywhere in the world. The technology to be employed is equally second to none.

The centre will be manned by the best hands anywhere in the world and the structures are classical”. He said the diagnostic equipment is coming directly from the manufacturers and almost all of them are ready. It’s going to be a centre of medical tourism, he emphasised.

The SSA further highlighted that when the hospital becomes functional, power supply will be 24hours as it would have power from solar, generator and national grid.

The SSA on Medical Services further briefed me; “We also have a School of Health which is in the forefront of teaching people the fundamentals of total health management thereby raising health officials that will help to manage our health facilities. These are part of what the governor has done.”

From this out of the world edifice and State of the art complex, I was escorted to the School of Nursing also reconstructed by the administration of Governor Umahi situated a few kilometers to the wonder health centre where Governor Umahi’s signature is well written. This edifice is another structure in her own class if it doesn’t stand out as the best in Nigeria.

In the course of my inspection, I ran into a son of the soil, Hon. Emmanuel Obasi the Deputy Principal Secretary DPS to Governor Umahi and an influential member of the Ebonyi State Government highest ranking body the State Executive Council who further highlighted, “The vision behind the establishment of David Nweze Umahi University of Medical Sciences is to halt and reverse medical tourism abroad; halt and reverse capital flight due to medical treatment and management of high calibre diseases; provision of access to ultramodern medical equipment and personnel and to expose our medical students to the best training facilities available in the world.

The Medical University is to house the best Medical College comprising Faculties and Departments in all Medical and Allied Medical disciplines and best Teaching cum Specialist Hospital  comprising about 5-6 Centres of Excellence in Medicare.

When fully completed and deployed, the University will be the best Medical University and Centre of Excellence in Medicare in Africa, best in West Africa, best in Nigeria, best in Alaigbo and best in Ebonyi State. Huge kudos to His Excellency, Engr. Dr. David Nweze Umahi, Governor of Ebonyi who initiated, started and is about to complete and inaugurate the project in less than three years.  To God be the glory.”

After the first phase of my tour, I contacted Dr. Daniel Umezurike, the amazing Commissioner for Health in Ebonyi State, to give me more insight about the magical Medical University. In response, Dr. Umezurike stated thus, “The King David Medical University which will be a state-owned higher institution will, apart from becoming a centre of excellence, also create employment while generating income for the state government.

He further stated that the Medical University, instead of becoming a burden to the state, would add to the entrepreneurial policy agenda of the state government. This is because it will be self-sustaining. He clarified that the Medical University will not be a private university but would work in collaboration with other universities in the state to meet up with the health care needs of the people. It will cater to visiting medical tourists.

More so, the King David Medical University will be a state-of-the-art medical tourist centre with modern but scientific cancer screening and dialysis centre. Most of the medical trips done abroad in Indian, London and American hospitals would now be done in Ebonyi State. The economic gains will be highly enormous because apart from giving affordable and quality health care services, the menace of capital flight would be arrested and the money hitherto spent abroad would now be channelled to the education and health care sectors of the economy.

The world-class developmental agenda on health and education have in recent years received priority attention. This is owing to the rising cases of healthcare needs occasioned by discoveries of new sicknesses and diseases hitherto unknown in human medical history. Rising cases of brain drain and poor school  enrolment arising from poor teaching and learning methods vis a vis dilapidated education facilities have become a bane of development.

I was made to understand that since assuming office on 29th May, 2015, Governor Umahi has made education and health one of the priority areas in the budget and project delivery system. And the two have always had the highest vote in yearly budget appropriations.

In the 2021 state budget appropriation for instance, education has the highest vote followed by the health sector.

I am glad that my eyes have seen Africa’s biggest and most trusted Medical destination and Centre of Excellence for the treatment of Heart diseases, Liver problems, Cancer etc.

After eight hours spent, I retired to my hotel after being escorted to inspect the Virology Centre situated within the Dr. Alex Ekweme Hospital Abakaliki. I learnt that it is the State where such a facility is situated within the entire South East used to test and treat various dreadedful diseases including COVID-19 pandemic, Lazza Fever and similar deadly diseases.

From what I have observed, Dr. David Nweze Umahi can be said to be the best Governor in Nigeria so far health sector is concerned. By the time the Umahi University College is ready, it will be flamboyantly scandalous for any of our leaders to travel outside Nigeria to seek any medical help as such will amount to encouraging corruption and promoting capital flight.

I can now understand why the legendary, sage, great and respected world leader, late Nelson Mandela of South Africa, once stated with Governor David Nweze Umahi in mind: “There is nothing I fear more than waking up without a programme that will help me bring a little happiness to those with no resources: those who are poor, illiterate, and ridden with terminal disease.”

I can now understand why it seems that Governor Umahi must have been a great student of  Mohandas K. Gandhi of India, who stated through his famous quote: “It is health that is real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver.” to influence his vision to provide the best in the Health Sector for his people. In agreement, Robert Alan Silverstein, stated: “Good health is one of the most important ingredients for a happy and productive life. And, yet, many people do not have access to health care, but live in conditions that spread disease.” The fact remains that the administration of the Governor from what I have seen so far wants to ensure good health for the entire Ebonyians.

With what I have seen so far, Gov. Umahi is one of our few Leaders who wakes up every day just thinking on what to do to impact and effect his environment. What is confusing about what I have seen so far is that Ebonyi State is rated amongst the poorest State in the country of one is to consider the amount that comes into the State through the Federal Allocation and how Governor Umahi could embark upon such gigantic projects while most Oil influenced and rich States are busy constructing makeshift flyovers and few kilometers roads and disturbing the world wasting funds in media to commission such projects while Governor is not making any noise about the great feats and revolution he has ignited in Ebonyi State.

I will in the next few days present my conclusion report on health facilities in Ebonyi, maybe take on the Airport Project said to be among the best in Nigeria with other projects that qualifies Umahi as not only a visionary but an exceptional and proud icon of the APC led Government.

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State[email protected]

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