Last week, the Accident & Emergency Unit of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) received a boost, with the commissioning of a Trauma Centre donated by Mallam Ola-Olu Ali (SAN) in memory of his wife who died of trauma related cases at the hospital after a motor accident eight years ago
When Hajiya Kehinde Faoziyat, the late wife of Mallam Ola-Olu Ali (SAN) died of trauma related cases after a motor accident along Ilorin/Offa Road, eight years ago, many had tagged her death untimely due to non-availability of relevant medical facilities around.
Besides, when the former Minister of Works, late Gen. Abdulkarim Adisa passed through a similar ordeal following an automobile accident along Ilorin/Lokoja Road about seven years ago, no Nigerian hospital could treat him and he had to be flown to the United Kingdom where he eventually passed away.
These are just a few Nigerians out of many others who had died in the past, not due to the dearth of competent personnel, but for the absence of much-needed medical equipment to handle trauma related cases in most of the nation's government or privately owned hospitals.
It is common sight today to see many Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres across the nation without trauma centres attached to their Accident and Emergency (A&E) Units. In the process, some cases are watched helplessly as patients died untimely death while relatives accept their fate as one ordained by God.
But Alli, who felt the pains of his wife's demise and still feeling the same till date, nurtured the idea of a trauma centre for the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, (UITH), Ilorin and brought it into fruition on September 21, 2012 when he finally handed over the centre to the management of the hospital.
Although he was silent on the total amount expended on the project located adjacently to the Accident &Emergency unit, hospital sources said the cost of the building and purchase of state-of-the-art equipment was valued at over N40 million. Some of the equipment at the 10- bed Advanced Trauma Centre include: Central Work Station, Multiple Parameter Monitors, Mobile x-ray, Ventilator, Defibrillator, Three Dimension Ultra-Sound, Infusion Pump, among others.
Among the dignitaries at the colourful event were, Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, John Kehinde a Director at the Federal Ministry of Health who represented the Minister of Health, Prof. Christian Chukwu, pioneer Chairman of ICPC, Justice Mustapha Akanbi (rtd.), Supo Ashaolu (SAN), Bayo Adelodun (SAN), Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin, Professor Ishiaq Oloyede, his counterpart from Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, Prof. AbdulRaheed Na'Allah and the immediate past Chief Medical Director of the UITH, Prof. Suleiman Kuranga
The governor spoke on the imperative of a quality health system and the reality that the government could not exclusively meet all the health needs of the citizens just as he eulogized the donor for the gift and the UITH for its quality services to the patients.
His words: "It is worthy of note that UITH has been pivotal to the delivery of quality health care in the state and the promotion of academic excellence in medicine. This center, I believe, will therefore greatly advance your work in these areas."
"As you all aware, access to quality healthcare is one of the most vital indices of well-being. I, therefore, commend the management and staff of UITH for providing primary, secondary and tertiary health care delivery at this hospital for the benefit of the citizenry."
He noted: "Let me also applaud the public-spiritedness and philanthropy of Mallam Yusuf Alli (SAN) in donating the Trauma Centre to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital. By this singular gesture, you have joined the growing list of those selfless Nigerians, rich and poor, who continue to give back to the community without any expectation of reward. While joining the UITH community to express profound appreciation for this laudable gesture, I call on other distinguished members of the society who have been similarly blessed by the Almighty to emulate this generous act.
"Due to the strategic location of Kwara State as the gateway between the North and South, traffic accident-related trauma cases are common in this axis. However, with the opening of this centre, this hospital's capacity to deal with trauma cases and other health emergencies will be greatly enhanced," he said.
While acknowledging the vital role played by the UITH at all levels of healthcare provisions in the state, he reminded the people of the primary responsibilities of the hospital, which remained training and research.
Governor Ahmed added: "As part of my administration's efforts to increase access to quality healthcare and reduce the pressure on this great institution, therefore, I will soon commission the Ilorin, Offa, Omu-Aran, Share and Kaiama General Hospitals which are currently undergoing modernization at a cost of N1.6 billion.
"Furthermore, we are committed to rehabilitating another five general hospitals in 2013 and to building three new general hospitals in those local government councils without secondary health institutions, in the next three years."
For Ahmed, "as recent developments in our economy and in modern governance have illustrated, government alone cannot meet the development aspirations and needs of the people."
"My administration has recognized this fact and created a Public-Private Partnership Office to facilitate private sector involvement in the provision of public goods. I therefore solicit private sector participation in our health sector as we move towards our target of 500 meter access to quality healthcare."
In his remarks at the event, the health Minister said deaths through trauma related cases were next to those associated with infectious diseases in the country. He thanked Alli for "his kind heart to humanity" just as he disclosed plans by the Federal Government to train more Trauma surgeons and attach them to all the nation's Teaching Hospitals.
Unfolding a frightening statistics at the event, the CMD of the UITH Professor AbdulWaheed Olatinwo, said while road traffic accidents accounted for about 1.3 million deaths and 50 million injuries worldwide, Nigeria as a nation "loses about 200,000 citizens annually" to the scourge.
Olatinwo added: "Many of these deaths are avoidable, and are caused by inadequate initial care for the victims. This new centre will no doubt, improve our capacity to take care of trauma patients and reduce unwarranted injury-related deaths among the people of Kwara State and its environs."
The hospital boss promised continued pursuit of the agenda of his administration towards attaining maximum health care for the patients' satisfaction.
In his remarks, Ali said God directed his mind into donating the centre after a personal tragic event of the death of his wife some eight years ago.
According to him: "A personal event eight years ago opened my eyes widely to the inadequacy of our health facilities. Besides, it is only fair that I show my gratitude to God by giving back to the society, part of His material endowments on me over-time."
"We should also note that government alone, at whatever level cannot provide all the health needs of the citizens, thus the need for personal and institutional provision of basic health facilities. It is, therefore, my hope that this little effort will ginger and galvanize better endowed persons, to also put their minds into contributing to the material well being of our health institutions."
The development has made the management of the hospital come up with what it tagged "Alaanu Funds." Money from this fund, coincidentally chaired by the donor of the trauma centre, is spent on sub or non-conscious accident victims whose relatives could not be immediately traced. The relatives could refund the money so spent.
According to UITH spokesman Oba Hassan Kadir, "the emphasis is to safe lives and not to get the fund so spent refunded. Here, as a tertiary hospital, we can't reject any patient for as long as he is not yet certified dead. Therefore, worst cases are daily brought here. You know that some of the patients would have even died before the arrival of the relatives so do we force the relatives to pay back when the patients are dead?"
Before the emergence of the "Alaanu Fund" automobile accident victims were brought in daily into the Accident and Emergency unit of the UITH. Some, due to the severity of their injuries, were watched dying helplessly.
The Director of Administration of the hospital Dr Mrs Ayo Bello described Ali's intervention as timely, thanking him for the vision to safe lives just as she urged other Nigerians to emulate the kind gesture.
The high point of the event was a play let by the students of the Performing Arts Department of the University of Ilorin where they presented a caricature trauma centre without equipment with high casualty tolls recorded. The play let ended with a question, who knows whose turn it will be to be brought into the trauma centre?"