Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Governor Alex Otti, of Abia State has said that the Medical College of the Abia State University Uturu, ABSU, would never be allowed to lose accreditation for whatever reason.
The Governor spoke on Thursday when a delegation of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), who came on accreditation visit to the Abia State University Teaching Hospital ABSUTH, Aba, paid courtesy visit to him.
ABSU medical college lost MDCN accreditation following following months of inactivity and dilapidation of ABSUTH due to incessant strikes by doctors protesting salary arrears.
The Governor has demonstrated commitment towards restoring the lost accreditation as he embarked on massive upgrade of facilities at the hospital.
Otti said: “Never again should it happen that we will lose accreditation, it’s a big shame. I was not in government when it happened, but I saw it coming, and I wrote; I wrote to the former Governor.
“Before the accreditation was withdrawn, I saw everything; lecturers were on strike, the whole place dilapidated, I actually lost a friend there. So, we can’t continue like that. As if I was being clairvoyant, it didn’t take long before the accreditation was withdrawn.
“I was very deliberate in ensuring that the accreditation was restored,” Governor Otti stated, while recalling the enormous work done by his administration to rehabilitate the facility and bring it up to standard.
The Governor assured that his government would look into all shortcomings identified by the accreditation team with a view to attending to them timeously.
He said his administration would do it’s best to remedy the deficiencies, adding that the restoration of accreditation to ABSUTH was a major priority to his government.
Governor Otti remarked that the essence of governance is for the promotion of welfare and security of the people, hence the resolve of his administration to dedicate 20% and 15% of the state’s 2024 annual budget to education and health, respectively.
“That we’re able to deliver service to our people, for me, that is what is most critical. We have done a few things that some people ordinarily would not want to do, but if at the back of your mind you know that the essence of government is welfare and security of the people, that’s what government is all about.
“So, if we dedicate 15% of our annual budget to healthcare, it’s not a favour, we’re just doing what we’re supposed to do. If we dedicate 20% to education, it’s also not a favour. It’s a responsibility,” he said.
The Governor also assured that his administration was committed to the proper staffing of all healthcare institutions in the state even as he stated that his focus was to ensure that Abians and residents had unhindered access to quality healthcare.
Governor Otti noted that the vision behind his government’s planned establishment of a Medical Village in the state was to reverse medical tourism, regretting that 1.6 billion dollars was spent by Nigerians on medical tourism abroad, annually.
“Our vision is that we need to reverse medical tourism, not just in Abia but in Nigeria. If the numbers by the past administration (Federal) is anything to go, the country spends not less than 1.6 billion dollars on medical tourism and no less than 50 to 60 percent of that money is spent in India. By the time we are done with our medical village, we are targeting 10 percent of 1.6 billion Dollars,” he said with an air of optimism.
Speaking earlier, the Registrar Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, Dr Tajudeen Adisa Sanusi, represented by the Deputy Registrar, Dr Nnaemeka Nwakanma, thanked Governor Otti for the infrastructural uplift being witnessed in Abia State, but particularly in ABSUTH and other health institutions in the state.
He said that the council was impressed with the achievements recorded so far under Governor Otti, within a short period of assumption of office, adding that the Governor represents a ray of hope for Nigeria.
Dr Sanusi, who also commended Governor Otti for dedicating 20% and 15% of the 2024 annual budget to education and health, respectively, described it as the highest ever in the history of budgeting in Nigeria.
He said that Abia of today boasts of three accredited medical schools and made a case for mass recruitment of medical academic staff, technology-driven equipment, among other requirements, to ABSUTH.
Earlier, while introducing the team to the Governor, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Ngozi Okoronkwo, noted that the present administration met on ground a virtually moribund health institutions across the state, and thanked the Governor for his keen interest in revamping and overhauling the health sector of the state.
The Vice Chancellor, Abia State University (ABSU), Professor Maxwell Ogbulu; the pioneer Provost, ABSUTH, Professor Akpuaka; the Acting Provost, ABSUTH, Associate Professor John Chikezie; and other management staff of the institution were present during the visit by the MDCN accreditation team.