The story coincided with the time when Sokoto State is agog celebrating the procurement of mobile clinics, ambulances and utility vehicles and free medical care for the rural masses by Wamakko’s administration. The negative impression created in the story was that donkeys are used as ambulances in the state and this is very and unfortunate. At no point did the author of that story ever mention that the Governor of the state has ever procured ambulances for the benefit of the people or promote balanced reporting by hearing the other side of the state government. To avoid hoodwinking innocent and unsuspecting members of the public from believing the content of the story, it is imperative to put the health record in the state straight.
Ab-initio, Governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko made it very clear that effective health care delivery is one of his utmost priority areas. The point must be made that the development of the rural areas and dwellers is the major point of Governor Aliyu Wamako’s administration.
To actualize this vision, the state government has developed two major rural health initiatives. The first one is RUMCARE, meaning Rural Mobile Medical care programme where the state government has established three (3) health teams comprising of mobile clinic vans, doctors, pharmacists, nurses and midwives and which visit one community every week in each of the three senatorial zones. It is envisaged that at the end of every year, the mobile medical teams might have visited about 156 communities in the state attending to deserving patients and enhancing routine immunization.
To ensure the successes of RUMCARE, making medical care easily available for the rural people, the state government has procured 30 mobile clinics, 17 ambulances and 8 utility vehicles and drugs worth over N350 million.
The other rural health programme is FREMCARE or free medical care to cater for pregnant women and children less than 5 years of age. The programme, which was colourfully launched in Dange Shuni local Government in may 2009, provides drugs and other medical treatments to pregnant women and children aged below five free of charge in all the 17 general hospitals and 10 primary health centers in the state. Free medical care is for prevention, treatment and control of childhood diseases in addition to free medical care for pregnant women. These rural health initiatives are aimed at reducing the difficulties of the vulnerable groups and not too well served communities by providing free and accessible quality health care to them.
To show that his government is committed to the health of his people, about 10% of the 2009 budget was devoted to the health sector which is close to about five billion naira.
The records at the state ministry of health show that as at may 2009, Wamakko’s government has executed over 51 projects on supply of drugs, medical equipment, civil works with about 25 of them reaching 100% completion level while the rest have reached various advanced stages of completion to underscore the seriousness the government attaches to the health sector. Details of these health projects are in construction of new primary health centres, rehabilitation of existing hospitals and other medical institutions, upgrading of clinics to general hospitals, training and re training of all cadres of health personnel, supply of medical furniture and equipment, provision of drugs, supply of ambulances.
About 40 indigenes of the state are on state scholarship to study medicine and pharmacy in tertiary institutions. The state government drugs revolving fund which was dead was resuscitated and drugs worth over N100million have been procured to ensure that hospitals and other health centres do not lack drugs.
The state government established state and L.G.A. level task forces on immunization which are made up of relevant stakeholders in the state such as political office holders, top government functionaries, traditional and religious leaders who have helped in sensitizing their communities on the need for immunization programmes against maternal and child mortality. This has enhanced immunization against polio and other deadly diseases such as tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, etc. and the level of non-compliance for immunization has drastically reduced in the state.
The result of this serious health measures has improved the health situation of the people. Some of the African communicable diseases have been effectively handled in the state. According to the permanent secretary, state ministry of health, “No case of meningitis was reported in Sokoto state in 2009” for Sani Umar, special Adviser to the Governor on media affairs, Sokoto state has recorded tremendous success as it ranks 2nd lowest incidence of these killer diseases in north west region. The state is also aggressive in pursuing health education and promotion, roll back malaria, eye care and treatment, leprosy and tuberculosis control programmes.
The above facts have shown that the author of that story is a serious armchair journalist who should have crosschecked her facts before publication. Perhaps, she is aware but only wants to be mischievous. This calls for caution and professional ethics.
Innocent Okadigbo writes from Asokoro, Abuja, ([email protected])
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