We Must Ensure Speedy End To Medical Tourism – Giyan

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Joshua Giyan, a family physician and the Chief Medical Director of Federal Medical Centre Keffi in Nasarawa state, in this interview with SOLOMON AYADO said that a policy direction to stop medical tourism of Nigerians abroad is long over due.

The state of health facilities in the country is deplorable, what do you think is the way out of the quagmire?

I believe the whole country has the problem you are talking about but in the health sector, we are moving faster because operations that were hitherto done abroad are being done in the country today and in our centre as well. We are on the move to ensure that medical tourism is curtailed to the barest minimum so, I won’t say it is totally deplorable because there was a time when federal hospitals were considered as mere consulting clinics. You come in, you see a doctor, no drugs and I remember that measures were put in place by the drug revolving fund to ensure that drugs were always available but the Nigerian factor has made it in such a way that despite the efforts of government, you still see some deplorable assets in the health sector.

Unnecessary strikes contribute too. People are paid but most times down tools, abandoning patients to their fate and resulting to avoidable deaths. The attitude of workers is often not good at all, but generally speaking we have improved.

Take for a example, infrastructurally, have we improved or not? we have improved. Another example is what was there in 2010 has now improved. I will give you an example about myself. When you talk about equipment, you find out that the ones you never dreamt about having in 2010 we now have them in every sector and all our records, quality of service has improved due to training and retraining. I may not know about other places in Nigeria but when you come to keffi, you can see for yourself and in fact, if not for some nagging issues I would say most African countries should come to access healthcare in Nigeria because of the way we are moving.

You talked about procurement of medical equipment but often times we hear of equipment breakdown without subsequent replacement as expected, so what happens in a situation like this?

Yes, the reason why such things happen is because of poor planning, you just rush and buy equipment and you do not build in it the maintenance aspect then you are already bound to fail because these equipment are sensitive. The procurement process has instructed that any equipment being bought you should build in installation, one year repair training so that at least for the next one year you have a problem free equipment, so that is one of the reasons.

So when we installed our equipment we called them to task. Infact there is what is called retention bid. You can only be paid when you are satisfied or after the period subsisting expires. And what we have also done is to go into partnership to acquire some of this equipment on a public/private partnership basis, you bring them and install, governments makes use of it and at the end of the day you make your profit, so if you are lacking any equipment, the public/ private partnership is the best and i think it is the best sustainable way to maintain this equipment.

Your hospital is said to be under staffed and often, we hear of recruitment racketeering. What is the true position?

The first question about understaffing is totally false. It is not correct because in 2009/2010 we had only ten consultants and ten consultants are not okay in such a big hospital but we took the bull by the horn and ensured that every specialty is taken care of and now we have over sixty consultants.

There are only few fields that are not covered but we have visiting consultants. Now in terms of recruitment exercise, there have being wrong procedure followed by applicants and you know, some people if they are looking for a Job they want to bring a place down. They want to destroy the system. If they recommend someone and he doesn’t get they want to destroy the system. The method for recruitment is transparent. You advertise after which you give six weeks and set the date for interview after which you pick the best apart from picking the best you also follow federal character which says you should not pick more than three percent from any state and sometimes you have to do it the other way in terms of emergency.

You have to rush to the federal character commission where you get waiver or go to the head of civil service establishment to show that we have worked on our man power budget and we have obtained approval to recruit the needed personals. We are up to date with the man power that we have. So you can understand that the fact that we don’t advertise often does not mean we do not follow due process.

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