Iniobong Ekponta, Uyo
Governor Godswill Akpabio, who is bowing out today after running the oil-rich State of Akwa Ibom since 2007, has lamented over the despicable state of the nation’s healthcare delivery system, noting that the neglect of such vital sector has forced a huge deficit on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
According to the Governor, the inefficiency of the sector has forced rich Nigerians with life threatening ailment to seek medical attention in Europe and India.
And Akpabio said this has led to the depletion of the country’s resources in foreign exchange, disclosing that about N81 billion might have been lost yearly to medical tourism by prominent Nigerians in search of medical solutions to their ailments abroad.
The Governor spoke while commissioning the state-of-art 20th Anniversary Hospital located in Itam, on the outskirt of Uyo, the State capital, said the completion of the health facility would curb capital flights in the country.
According to Akpabio, who said he was leaving the State with head high owing to several master-strokes recorded in various sectors of the State economy under his ‘uncommon transformation’ legacy, Akwa Ibom would be the next Mecca of medical tourism in the coming years.
He said the delivery of the facility, which would serve as multi-purpose referral specialist hospital, was the fulfillment of the social contract his administration reached with the people of the State when he was massively voted for in 2007.
The facility, which he described as world class, would be managed by international partners under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) already reached with the foreign medical consultants to also bring their expertise to bear in the running of the facility.
He lamented that several deaths of prominent Nigerians have been recorded in the country over the years due to lack of efficient healthcare system, saying that with the coming on stream of the hospital, such unfortunate incidents would be a thing of the past.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Emem-Abasi Bassey, expressed delight at the completion of the project, noting that Akpabio must be commended for seeing through the completion of the project enunciated by the past government of Obong Victor Attah.
He said the operation of the hospital would be heavily automated using telemedicine facilities and advanced Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facility in the delivery of endoscopy surgery, dialyses regime and pneumatic delivery.