A few years ago, a certain governor built 26 empty halls and nicknamed them general hospitals. While he was still serving as governor, the 26 empty halls became abode for criminal elements in society. With all the noise made about those elephant projects, Imo people are yet to benefit from them or recoup the humongous amount of money spent.
This is not the case with the Shared Prosperity Government of Governor Hope Uzodimma, whose vision is to leave lasting legacies that address the actual needs of the people, not noise-making projects that only serve as conduit-pipe.
Governor Hope Uzodimma has shown the difference in many ways. He has demonstrated what service to one’s people should be: solving their problems and making their burdens light. This is the Hope Uzodimma experience, giving Imo people new reasons to thank God Almighty for having him as the governor of our dear State. The governor’s midas touch is not only seen in his road revolution but in the other sectors, such as the healthcare sector.
Since he assumed office as governor on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, the governor has changed the landscape of the healthcare service delivery. He faced the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, and he conquered. The records show that Imo State is among the states with the least casualty figures. With Professor Maurice Iwu as the Chairman, Imo State Task Force on COVID-19 Pandemic, the governor stayed the course, and we have God Almighty to thank for it.
To further put smiles on the faces of the people, the governor also established mobile clinics aimed at bringing healthcare service to the doorsteps of those who need them. The programme is organised in such a way that with a phone call, medical facility and medical services providers are at your beck and call. Launched in September 2020, the mobile clinics were to serve essentially the rural areas without the hassles of transportation or funance, which had denied many access to medicare and led to the death of many. To eliminate the encumbrances of healthcare financing, the governor specifically announced that the services rendered by the mobile clinics are completely free.
The governor hinted that the mobile clinics became necessary because a survey by medical consultants revealed that no healthcare centre owned by the state government was in a state of readiness to manage emergencies at the grassroots. He said: “The same report showed that if the State is to embark on putting the heath centres in order, it will take a minimum of 18 months, and from the same survey, it was gathered that death rates at the rural areas shows that 75 per cent are avoidable deaths and could be blamed on lack of medical facilities.” The governor added: “Our target is for medical attention to be extended to the vulnerable and indigents at the rural areas, believing that those at the urban centres can easily access medical facilities around them. Nobody is supposed to pay any money. The drugs are also free of charge. Nobody should commercialize or abuse the distribution of the drugs.”
Governor Hope Uzodimma went beyond the mobile clinics to establish a clinic for the civil servants in the state. Commissioned in November 2021 by the governor, it is the first ever clinic for the civil servants in Imo State, located inside the state secretariat. The govenor pledged to always cater for the well-being of the civil servants, as the clinic was established “to serve as a place where civil servants will get first aid services before going to the general hospital.”
Earlier in 2020, the governor solved a puzzle by graduating the first set of medical students to ever finish their programmes and graduate from the Medical College of the Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri, after a period of 11 years in school. Medical courses in IMSU were encumbered, and as a result the students could not graduate. Upon assumption of office, the governor took steps to remove the encumbrances, and the students heaved a sigh of relief as they graduated. The school has since graduated about three sets of medical students, and the governor rehabilitated the Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH), Orlu.
It was, therefore, moments of joy for the people of Imo State, especially the people of the oil producing areas, namely: Ohaji-Egbema and Oguta LGAs as the governor embarked on the commissioning of brand new general hospitals in the areas. On Friday, September 8, 2023, the governor was at Oguta Amaeshi, Oguta LGA, where he commissioned a 42-bed general hospital named after the late great politician, Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe. Speaking at the commissioning of the hospital, the governor who shared in the joy of the people, noted that the new hospital is in line with his administration’s commitment to enhance healthcare accessibility in the State, aimed at reducing mortality rate caused by inadequate healthcare facilities and services.
Lamenting that about 75% of deaths in the rural areas are avoidable, the governor disclosed that the hospital was built through the 13% Oil Derivation accruable to Imo State for the oil producing communities. He noted that the poor condition of the oil producing communities was as a result of the leadership vacuum that existed in the past, which made previous administrations to be unable to translate the natural endowment of the area into wealth to make people happy. He said his administration is bridging the gap rapidly and reaffirmed his administration’s unwavering commitment to committing the 13% oil derivation funds towards the betterment of the people.
The previous day, Thursday, September 7, the governor was at Umuokanne in Ohaji-Egbema LGA, where he also commissioned another brand new general hospital. Speaking at the event, the governor said his government was determined to change the narrative in the oil producing areas of the state through prudent deployment of the 13% oil derivation fund. The governor thanked the people of Ohaji-Egbema for embracing him as their son, assuring them that he would not mismanage their resources but would rather channel them towards meeting their needs.
He said: “It is the plan of God to make the three local governments of Ohaji-Egbema, Oguta and Oru East oil and gas producing areas. So, in the destiny of God, there is no room for envy. This hospital is fully paid for from the 13% Oil Derivation Allocation. In this hospital, the only equipment that is not here are the equipments that are meant for tertiary hospital, and it is deliberate because I want tertiary hospitals to deal with only referral.”