By Emmanuel Anike
The House of Representatives Committee on Federal Health Institutions has expressed satisfaction with the level and quality of infrastructure at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
Members of the Committee led by Hon. Martins Oke who visited the hospital as part of their oversight functions on Tuesday toured round the facilities across the two locations of the hospital.
Oke, representing Igbo-etiti/Uzouwani federal constituency of Enugu State, while speaking to journalists at the end of the tour described the facilities at the hospital as one of the best in the country.
Referencing specifically the new ultramodern Accident/Emergency complex recently constructed and donated to the hospital by Governor David Umahi, Oke extolled the general infrastructural revolution in the State under Umahi, describing the Governor as a best performer.
He further commended the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Emeka Onwe Ogah and his management team for prudently utilizing their budgetry allocations to constantly improve facilities and services in the institution.
The team leader who observed that there were still rooms for further improvement in the hospital, asked the CMD to articulate the outcome of their visit in terms of needs of the hospital for submission to the house for necessary action.
Oke explained: ” Thus group of Legislators are members of the House Representatives Committee on Federal Health Institutions.
“We are here on oversight functions, and we have had interactions with the CMD and his management team.
“And we are particularly impressed by what we have seen in Abakaliki.
“We have commended the CMD for all he has done, but there are still areas for improvement.
“He has to do it and interact with the members of the House Committee for us to see how we can achieve further improvement
“But it is one of the best hospitals we have visited.”
“When I was speaking earlier, I commended the Governor of the State on what we have seen as we entered the State.
“We are even more impressed now learning that this Accident/Emergency complex is constructed by the State government.
“This complex is a complete hospital; it is like a hospital in a hospital, and we thank the Governor very much for this.
“I believe that by the time he finishes his second tenure, Ebonyi State will have a good history to write about. “
He however decried the decline in the appropriation to the health sector in the 2020 budget blaming it on the negative effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said: “2020 has been a very rough year because of COVID-19 and what happened in the oil market due to our monolitic economy.
“The oil price dropped drastically, and that affected our budget, calling for the need for the leaders to diversify economy…
“It is clear to us that our hospitals are in very bad shape.
“So when we get back to the House, we will do our part.
“We have told the CMD that he has to do a summary of all we have discussed here today, come over to the Committee, and we will articulate ideas and know what we can do to support the hospital for it to have improved services on the people.”
Receiving the team at the hospital auditorium, the CMD noted that the hospital, by its position in the State offers both secondary and tertiary medical services which has continued to weigh down its facilities and personnel.
He regretted that the new mega teaching hospital, apart from not receiving its appropriations in full, had not received any take-off grant from the Federal government, a development which according to him has impeded its desired performance.
He enumerated the many challenges of the hospital to include dilapidated and obsolete structures, lack of adequate funding by the federal government, high cost of power; inadequate spaces for consultations, wards and offices; poor budgetey performance due to paucity of funds, among others.
Onwe stressed: “The hospital, especially the place regarded as FETHA 2, the former State teaching hospital that was taken over, has a lot of structure challenges: dilapidated structures.
“And on that we have made several requests to the Federal government of Nigeria through our Ministry.
“There is need for a take off grant to enable us have more space: clinicals for consultations, for offices and wards, but that has not been granted.
“Because of that, a lot of expenses are made just for the maintenance of the structures we have there.
“Moreover, they are fabricated walls and they have expired…”
He appealed to the Committee to assist the hospital secure the release of their budgetry approvals from the Federal government to enable them pay their contractors to avoid litigations.
The CMD however commended President Muhammadu Buhari for sustaining the payment of salaries to the hospital’s staff in spite of the economic challenges imposed on the nation by the COVID-19 pandemic.