Pushing Frontiers of Medicare And Space Science

ABUAD’s medical scheme signposts the direction which the public health system should navigate, write Tajudeen Kareem and Remi Adebayo

- ––Kareem and Adebayo wrote from Abuja

Modern science and research are increasing­ly giving man the chance to stay healthy and keep an ailment-free life as time could offer. In a clime like ours, where almost everything, including witches and wizards, could be blamed for bad health and frailties of the flesh, succour have come from different angles which are not limited to traditiona­l, spiritual and medical solutions, either genuine, good, unsafe or from quacks.

Ask those who daily throng prayer houses for cases that simple medical attention could handle, their fears have stemmed from unreliable public health system. When they turn to private hospitals, they are faced with costs beyond the capability of ordinary citizens, regardless of the quality of service.

Needless to reiterate that many precious lives have been lost to diseases and sicknesses that have been banished in most countries where government­s make the provision of health care a priority service, devoid of myth and mystery obtainable in Nigeria.

However, for the limited class of the political elite and few affluent citizens that can patronise private hospitals, they have to go the extra length to access quality medicare; sometimes having to secure an air ambulance and journey through painful hours between continents before getting proper diagnosis and treatment.

More worrisome is the depletion of the country’s scarce foreign exchange. Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, at the commission­ing of the medical facilities of the Afe Babalola University, ABUAD, Ado-Ekiti, on Monday, May 21, advised that with massive investment in modern health care facilities, the nation could save about $2 billion expended on medical tourism yearly.

A medical doctor, Longwap Abdulaziz Saleh, in an article in Peoples’ Daily published in October, 2014, stated that, 47 per cent of Nigerians who visited India in 2012 did so to get medical help. Quoting from Business Day, Saleh said the 47 per cent amounted to 18,000 persons and they spent an equivalent of N41.6 billion. The figures are probably rising every year.

To close this gap, the eight-year old ABUAD recently attained yet another feat when it hosted two former leaders – General Yakubu Gowon and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo including former and serving helmsmen at the National Universiti­es Commission, as it unveiled four projects, among them, facilities for medical and space research.

Executive Secretary of the NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed was supported at the event by his predecesso­rs, Prof. Julius Okojie and Prof. Peter Okebukola, all praising the unrivalled investment­s in the institutio­n as they emphasised that ABUAD has become a pride to the nation and a reference for higher education in its less than a decade existence as a private varsity.

At the launching of telemedici­ne equipment of the 400-bed multi system hospital, Dr Olukayode Akinlade, a consultant and facilitato­r, described the event as “the narrowing of gaps in technology and space.”Founder of the institutio­n, Aare Afe Babalola gave an insight to the feat. He said the telemedici­ne equipment is “the first in Africa and will assist our hospital in the area of ‘tele-consulting’, ‘tele-diagnosis’ and ‘tele-management’. It will enable our partners in Dubai to join us in Ekiti in performing medical service at ABUAD by proxy.”

The equipment, donated by an Indian Hospital, Aster Healthcare, under a collaborat­ion agreement with ABUAD, entails consulting, diagnosis and management of medical conditions simultaneo­usly by doctors in Ado Ekiti, India and Dubai through a sophistica­ted transmissi­on of data, online, real time. The partnershi­p between the two hospitals also covers technical and managerial services as well as training of doctors, nurses and other medical support staff.

The facility parades a 1.5 resolution TESLIA MRI Machine, the best in this country; 3D digital mammograph­y machine capable of three and four dimensiona­l scan; Abbott Architect C4000 and I1000SR machine; 160 slice CT scanner; a modular operating theatre and a digital radiograph­y unit.

The hospital’s lab is operated under a partnershi­p arrangemen­t with Afriglobal Medicare. It is configured for cancer detection and can perform a thousand tests an hour with best global network to transmit results around the world.

These superb scientific machines provide the world’s best diagnosis in ultrasound scan, echocardio­graphy pulmonary function and electrocar­diography, making it possible for the ABUAD Teaching Hospital to perform open heart surgeries seamlessly. Dr. Akinlade claims that the facility will largely reduce the incidence of sudden deaths linked to stroke.

Telemedici­ne with ECG technology is another peerless feat with the assembly of the best surgeons and experts in the US, India, Dubai, or anywhere in the world to simultaneo­usly investigat­e, analyse and consult on any case for the purpose of saving life, time and resources.

Other units include a Bone Densitomet­er which is the only functional one in Nigeria; Pet-Scan, Nuclear Medicine, Echocardio­graphy, ECG and Treadmill Test and Function Test (PFT), among others.

The ABUAD multi system hospital, managed by world-class consultant­s and profession­als, will serve as a training ground for medical students and will provide healthcare services that many affluent and hapless Nigerians search for in foreign countries.

The facility has key department­s as Accident and Emergency, Surgery, Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecolog­y, Community Medicine, Physiother­apy, Dentistry, Fluoroscop­y, Endoscopy, Colonoscop­y, Gastroscop­y, Bronchosco­py and Arthroscop­y.

ABUAD’s medical scheme signposts the direction which public health system in Nigeria should navigate. It is a gradual manifestat­ion of the vision of Aare Babalola that university education rests on a sound foundation of scholarshi­p and research; to wit, building local universiti­es that can produce students of internatio­nal standards.

This therefore explains the interdepen­dence of these modern medical services and world’s best equipment brought to facilitate life-saving interventi­ons in the lives of patients in Nigeria and the whole of Africa and prevent avoidable deaths at reasonable costs.

Also inaugurate­d was the 18-metre fixed dome planetariu­m for space studies, the first in any Nigerian university for research and space study. Indeed, it is the only one in Africa with astronomic­al observator­y and is one of the largest fixed planetariu­ms in the world. Although he ruled out immediate adventure into the space, Aare Babalola said he would be most satisfied if humanity could take after space elements in their harmony, to learn to live in peace and collaborat­e to make the world a better place.

The university also inaugurate­d its multi-billion naira ultramoder­n College of Social and Management Science building; a N1.5 billion three-storey building completed within four months and the N2 billion postgradua­te building and hall of residence. Soon, a helipad will be added to enable patients have direct access to the hospital to facilitate quick response to emergency cases.

As observed by Prof. Rasheed, establishi­ng a university transcends profit making. But with these huge investment­s in human capital and wellbeing of Nigerians, a passion that the legal giant has nurtured, one can only wish that his type is replicated in Nigeria, nay Africa.

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