By  Tayo Ogunbiyi

There is a saying that “a wealthy nation is a healthy nation.” This assertion is anchored on the belief that a healthy population contributes immensely to the socio-economic growth of any society. In realisation of the need to maintain and sustain a healthy population, the Lagos State government, under the leadership of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has evolved strategic programmes aimed at making access to prompt healthcare services seamless.

The state’s public health improvement agenda is focused on infrastructure, welfare of personnel and access to quality and affordable service, especially by the poorest and most vulnerable residents. Presently, the administration is constructing a new 280-Bed unit facility at the Ojo General Hospital to accommodate the growing needs of the community.

The construction of the 1000 bed space mental health and rehabilitation hospital at Ketu-Ejinrin is also progressing as well. Renovation and remodeling works at the Mainland Hospital, Yaba, Apapa General Hospital, Harvey Road Health Centre, Ebute Metta Health Centre, and Isolo General Hospital are at various stages of completion.

The construction of a new 11-floor resident doctors’ quarters at LASUTH, Ikeja, has also begun.  Similar projects are also ongoing at the Gbagada General Hospital as well as the new Ojo General Hospital in Iba. The new doctors’ quarters located within the Isolo General Hospital facility have been completed.

The government has also built and completed 10 Triage and Oxygen Therapy Centres across the state. The Centres are to serve as Oxygen Therapy Centre and Sample collection Centres for residents requiring COVID-19 PCR test and oxygen therapy support. The ten centres are located in Alimosho, Isolo, Surulere, Gbagada, Ifako-Ijaiye, Ibeju-Lekki, Apapa, Mushin and Amuwo Odofin areas of the state.

The Triage and Oxygen centre is a permanent facility, and will be an addition to the existing medical infrastructure in the State even in the post pandemic era.

Similarly, the construction of the new Massey Children’s Hospital in Adeniji Adele, Lagos is also in progress. The construction is geared towards addressing the challenge of space and expansion being encountered at the site of the current Massey Street Children’s Hospital. The nine-storey, 250-bed hospital will be the largest children’s hospital in West Africa, when completed.

The government has also taken delivery of new ambulances, including a new floating clinic (ambulance boat) for prompt rescue of victims of boat mishaps and other water-related disasters. New ambulance bases have also been constructed at the General Hospital, Lagos; General Hospital, Badagry; General Hospital, Ikorodu; Maternal and Child Centre, Eti-Osa and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja. This is intended to improve response time to incident cases.

Preliminary construction has commenced on a four-floor state-of-the-art edifice that will house the proposed Lagos State Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) and patients, within the premises of the Mainland Hospital, Yaba.

In the area of unhindered access to health, the government is introducing a health insurance and endowment fund for vulnerable and disadvantaged Lagosians.  To be known as the Eko Social Health Alliance (EkoSHA), under the Lagos State Health Scheme (LSHS), the scheme will focus on supporting the elderly, orphanage homes, vulnerable persons living with HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Sickle Cell Anaemia, and victims of domestic and sexual violence.

At the centre of the state’s public health policy is the provision of unhindered access to healthcare delivery without financial constraint to the residents. The commissioning of four Mother and Child Centers, MCCs, at Eti-Osa, Igando, Ikorodu and Badagry amply demonstrates the administration’s resolve to enhance residents’ access to healthcare.

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Similarly, the roadmap for the comprehensive upgrade of infrastructure in the state-owned health facilities has taken off. The infrastructure roadmap is being executed in phases with the primary goal of revamping health facilities across the state’s primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare system.

The overhaul is part of the strategy to build resilient healthcare in Lagos and increase residents’ access to quality universal health coverage. The renewal effort, which is being carried out on short, medium and long-term basis, would bring about fit-for-purpose healthcare facilities that would raise the capacity of government to respond to contemporary and future health challenges.

The state’s ongoing public health facilities renewal drive also includes improved efficiency for physical maintenance, ease of movement, low carbon footprint, low energy consumption, infection prevention and control as well as staff and patient comfort. The restoration programme is also designed to address issues of design errors, drainage, patient flow, staff flow, water collection, infection prevention, energy and ventilations.

The Government has renovated and remodelled the Mainland Hospital in Yaba with future plans of making it an Institute of Research for Infectious Disease. It has also completed the remodeling and upgrading of Apapa General Hospital, just as the Harvey Road Health Centre, Ebute Metta Health Centre, Isolo General Hospital and the General Hospital, Odan Lagos are all undergoing different phases of renovation. All of these are part of the efforts to make health accessible to Lagosians.

As earlier affirmed, the promotion and protection of the health of Lagos residents undoubtedly has a positive impact on social development and quality of life of citizens. This explains the government’s investment in the Greenfield medical infrastructure project to prevent issues noticed in health infrastructure in the state. It is expected that all issues bedeviling medical health infrastructure across the state will disappear when the medical infrastructure blueprint strategy is fully implemented.

The continuous improvement in quality of health service in the state is a core mandate of the Sanwo-Olu administration and the government is uniquely positioned to utilise available resources to actualize this goal. With the ongoing refurbishment and roll out of a new infrastructure blueprint, the medical infrastructure landscape of Lagos would look completely different, thus moving the state a step closer to achieving universal health coverage.

Perhaps, more importantly, the medical infrastructure blueprint agenda will help address the issue of brain drain, medical tourism and patient welfare.

It is also essential to draw attention to the state’s response to the Coronavirus, COVID-19, which has been commended locally and globally, as it helped to prevent the pandemic from spreading more rapidly across the state and also from wreaking havoc on the entire country.

The response strategy put in place by the government efficiently curtailed the pandemic and limited fatalities. EKO TELEMED, a tech-driven platform through which the government managed the spread of the virus, yielded efficient results in breaking the cycle of community infection.

The Sanwo-Olu administration has, no doubt, demonstrated that the restoration of public health facilities remains vital in its ‘Greater Lagos” Agenda. It recognises, and rightly so, that health is wealth and this explains its numerous innovative and people-centered schemes that are carefully designed to change the face of public health in the state.

On the whole, it is heart-warming to note that the current administration in Lagos State is working tirelessly towards attaining a sustainable health care delivery system for the residents.

•Ogunbiyi is director (features), Lagos State Ministry of Information & Strategy