“Public health is a powerful tool to level that playing field, to bend the arc of our country away from distrust and disparities and back towards equity and justice,” the late American minister, Martin Luther King, Jr. This quotation aptly described the need for quality health care services.
In September 2021, the University College Hospital, Ibadan, was applauded as an outstanding public health facility at an event organised by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and witnessed by President Muhammadu Buhari. At the helm of this foremost health institution is a manager who recognises that it is important to have plans to deliver on long-term goals, by ensuring that immediate commitments and targets are met on a daily basis; with every target contributing to and complementing set-out long-term goals.
Not many people were surprised therefore, that the Minister of Heath, Dr Osagie Ehanire, personally delivered the letter re-appointing Prof. Jesse Abiodun Otegbayo for a second term as the chief medical director of the hospital, undoubtedly one of the oldest health institutions in Nigeria. Strategically located in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, the health facility boasts world-class infrastructure, capable of shrinking the escalating medical tourism among the country’s elites.
Aside the health infrastructure, the facility has a skilled workforce, integrated electronic information systems, public health organisations, resources and research, as well as state-of-the-art medical infrastructure.
Just like a healthy individual contributes to the overall development and growth of a country, quality health infrastructure also guarantees healthy manpower that strengthens the production of goods and services.
This is why the UCH, Ibadan has consistently played a leading role in churning out world-class training, research and medical services, thereby raising the standard of the medical profession, both nationally and globally. The physical development of the hospital commenced in 1953 in its present site and was formally commissioned after it was completed on 20th November 1957.
However, given the influx of Nigerians and foreigners into the 65 -year-old hospital modelled after the University College Hospital, London, there was a need for expansion.
The need for innovation and expansion signalled a rebirth for the hospital, under the leadership of Prof. Otegbayo to upgrade the hospital to a world-class facility in line with international best practices. From an 872 bed-space facility, the hospital under Prof. Otegbayo, who was appointed by the federal government as the chief medical director on 24th January 2019, has witnessed a substantial boost and is now a 1, 229 bed-space institution. Before his elevation, he had served the hospital in various capacities.
On the resumption of duty and based on his revered attitude of diligence, Prof. Otegbayo lifted the UCH from the doldrums to a level of global competitiveness. The hospital recorded unparalleled feats by reshaping the health care services in Nigeria, resulting in the UCH being christened the citadel of medical training in the country.
Committed to innovation, Prof. Otegbayo unveiled a 24-point development agenda, meant to bolster quality healthcare services in the hospital, including reclaiming its former status as one of the four hospitals in the Commonwealth, where kings and princes from Saudi Arabia came for medical treatment.
Before he resumed duty on March 1, 2019, the hospital had 17 uncompleted projects. Apart from completing these projects, Prof. Otegbayo, initiated and completed 46 new capital projects from 2019 till date.
They include the environmental health tutor’s course hostel, medical oxygen production plant, mortuary building reconstruction, NYSC medical service centre, Iseyin, sickle cell centre, the cardiac centre, radio-iodine therapy ward, commissioning of the paediatrics intensive care unit, and the accreditation of the emergency medicine residency training under the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, among others.
Worthy of mention is that the UCH has been acknowledged as the most patient-friendly, hygienic and worker-conscious hospital by the various accreditation teams that had visited the hospital since the inception of the Otegbayo-led administration. The motivation of the workforce for increased productivity and improved aesthetics of the hospital was another feat that earned Otegbayo global recognition.
This is in addition to the peaceful co-existence with host communities and other stakeholders, improved quality and scope of health care delivery to patients through adequate provision of medical equipment and consumables, and regular feedback from patients through the hospital’s total quality management department.
Other innovations recorded by the reappointed chief medical director are increasing the hospital’s revenue, upgrading and re-equipping of laboratories, the intensive care unit, theatres, and general improvement of the clinical services with state-of-the-art equipment such as echocardiography, dialysis machines, digital X-ray, ECG, ventilator, infusion pump machines, operating tables, ICU beds, cash and carry pharmacies, and cash and carry medical consumables outlets to reduce the purchasing of drugs and medical consumables from outside the hospital.
He also provided 48 3-seater iron chairs for patients’ relatives at the emergency department, wards and clinics to avoid patients’ relatives from sitting on bare floors as was done in the past, creation of special duties unit, disease surveillance unit, COVID-19 task force, clinical virology department, infectious disease and health insurance departments for staff and the establishment of electronic medical records for easy storage and retrieval of patients’ information.
Mention must also be made of the installation of seven new elevators to facilitate the movement of patients to all floors of the hospital, equipping and reviving the in vitro fertilization clinic, which led to the delivery of the first set of triplets, resuscitation of the moribund medical oxygen plant and establishment of a new plant, provision of 51 seven cubic centimetres medical oxygen cylinders, 56 hand held pulse oximeters, cylinder accessories and over a thousand nasal prongs and cannulas, installation of a modern incinerator and CCTV as well as the installation of 400 solar powered lights.
Furthermore, Prof. Otegbayo’s in his first tenure at the UCH, Ibadan, witnessed the installation and commissioning of the UCH-RAD-AID pictorial archiving communication system, reporting room in the radiology department, procurement of state-of-the art laboratory equipment, including six brand new vehicles for top management staff, procurement of anaesthetic machines and chairs at the ophthalmology department, procurement of two S70 GE echocardiographic machines for the electrocardiography unit, the overhaul of the hospital’s sewage, and water supply reticulation system, procurement of 64 slice CT scanners, 500KVA, three 150KVA and 1,000KVA generators, two digital mammography machines for the radiology department, the purchase of six new ambulances, beautification of the hosiptal and the construction of major roads within the hospital and staff quarters, the construction and equipping of X-ray centre at the Chief Tony Anenih Geriatric Centre, construction and equipping of the NYSC Medical Centre at the NYSC Orientation Camp, Iseyin, resuscitation, renovation and re-equipping the NHIS Clinic at the Federal Secretariat, Ikolaba, Ibadan, and renovating and equipping the blood bank centre of the hospital to meet world standard.
Within the first four years of Otegbayo’s administration, the UCH Health Foundation was established as a means of attracting funds and donations for the development of the hospital. And through collaboration with various international organisations, the hospital performed 16 open heart surgeries for children at a subsidised rate and resuscitated the decade-long abandoned 40-bed guest house at the South campus.
Currently, the UCH, Ibadan, has witnessed a patients’ turnover of 17, 202 from 13, 893 within his first four years in office, while on average, 311, 573 patients annually received medical care at the hospital from the 247, 254 patients recorded yearly before now. Also, the maternal morbidity rate at the hospital had reduced from 886 to 426 annually, while infant morbidity rate decreased from 1, 273 to 839 per annum.
In the words of the health minister, Dr. Ehanire, the UCH is marching surefooted, to becoming a leading destination for cutting-edge healthcare in Africa. Speaking while announcing Prof. Otegbayo’s reappointment, the minister affirmed that the extension of his tenure as the chief medical director is a declaration that the Buhari Administration is satisfied with his performance in his first term in office.
“The letter of reappointment not only tells you that we are satisfied with what you have done so far, but tells you that we want more. It is not only a declaration of confidence, but also a declaration of expectations that you need to take this hospital forward, so that it will be much better than where you met it.
“We are not saying that where you met it was bad, but the very idea of progress is that you are not stagnant. If you are stagnant, then you are behind. So therefore, it is to tell you that we expect more from you,” the minister challenged the reappointed chief medical director and his management team.
• Aminu is a public health consultant.
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