Kwara State Ministry of Health has refuted the claims that the ongoing renovation at the Lafiagi General Hospital in Edu local government of the state was substandard, saying the claimants were victims of poor information sourcing.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Abubakar Olayiwola Ayinla, who led a government delegation comprising journalists on an inspection visit to the hospital on Monday, said the claims amounted to mischievous misrepresentation of facts, especially as no attempts were made to speak to relevant persons.
The state government had in August 2021 re-awarded the contract for the renovation of Lafiagi General Hospital to ThreeMplus Enterprises limited and is due for completion in July this year.
The re-award followed the termination of the first contract awarded to a different company that was meant to repair damages caused by an unfortunate fire incident that gutted some parts of the hospital in January 2020.
The delegation also comprised the Director-General Kwara State Hospital Management Bureau Mr. Oladimeji Saad Aluko; Head of Medical Services Dr. Femi Joseph; and Director Personnel Finance and Supply at the Bureau, Deacon Moses Abiodun Taiwo; who were received and conducted round the hospital premises by the Chief Medical Director of the Hospital, Dr. Oyeniyi Ayodeji.
The Permanent Secretary said the Ministry of Health is satisfied with the speed and quality of job done by the contractor in the hospital and that not only was the Ministry adequately briefed from time to time on the progress of work done, the building services of the state Ministry of Housing and Urban Development also needed to certify the work done before the companies were given funds at different stages of the project.
He said the contractor still has two months left to deliver the job – a period he added could be used to fix the leaking roof recently caused by the heavy rain in the area.
“We have also seen that the recent heavy rainfall has removed part of the roof in some of the wards.
“This is a new development that was not foreseeable. But luckily enough, the contractor is still on site right now (as you can see),” he said.
The Permanent Secretary, who emphasised that the facility is highly functional and beneficial to the people of Lafiagi and its environs, dismissed claim that the hospital is neither adequately equipped nor provided with basic equipment, saying: “we have up-to-date equipment that are being used for service delivery and they are making us achieve results”.
“This hospital was built in the early 70s. This is the first time a total renovation is being done to the hospital, you can also see that it has stimulated better attendance and utilisation of services is better now,” he stated.
“We have also been to the power generating complex where we saw three (3) generators diesel-powered Mikano and smaller ones that runs on gasoline dedicated to specific unit of the hospital.
“To confirm the functionality, we ensured that the Mikano generator was turned on in our presence; we thereby confirmed it was working and has the capacity to power the whole hospital when required.
“Furthermore, on the Ultrasound Scan, we saw a duly functional Toshiba-made Ultrasound machine, a newer one that was recently supplied to the hospital.
“The visiting team is appalled that the critics were only hell-bent on seeing the negatives.
“A positive-minded group should have done the appropriate things: interact with the parent Ministry (Health), supervising Ministry of Housing, and also get the doctor duly informed. And for that purpose, we will see things together on the same page, identify gaps, if any, and move on.”
He also blamed the management staff of the hospital for under-utilizing the various sources of water to meet the quantity needed, adding that apart from re-activating one of the boreholes, there were additional two deep wells in place that are meant to serve the purpose.
“It is most unfair for anyone to want to incite the public against an administration that has made deliberate efforts to change the state of things, especially so in the health sector,” he said.
Mr. Saad, whose office is saddled with management of health personnel in the state hospitals, disclaimed the assertion that Lafiagi General hospital is understaffed, saying that staff strength is usually in consonance with how many patients that access medical care per day in each facility.
“For instance, we look at the number of patients accessing care per facility, and we look at population spread.
“This is the way we manage staff distribution across our facilities. Lafiagi General hospital is therefore not an exception”, he said.
Saad however noted that the renovation of the hospital has increased patronage and further strengthened the confidence of Lafiagi people in the present government, adding the hospital is wearing a new look.
He also said that the Governor has recently directed the employment of more personnel to the state healthcare centres, a gesture he said was meant to fill some manpower gap in the system.
“This is the first time the government is actually coming to save the soul of this hospital.
“With the increase in patronage and attrition of staff, His Excellency Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has granted us, less than a week ago, an approval to replace those staff that had recently left the service with new ones like doctors, nurses and the likes,” he said.
“I don’t see any reason for anyone pressing the panic button to attract unnecessary attention or cause confusion.
“I have seen that His Excellency has paid so much attention in making sure that Lafiagi General hospital is done to perfection.
“It takes a committed governor to be able to personally visit facilities and insist on making sure that quality job is delivered (by re-awarding the contract) even when Lafiagi residents might not have noticed what went wrong.”
Saad further clarified that it was two and not three contractors that handled the job, saying “if you look at the report that was sent the third one which was the #5.7m that they (critics) were talking about was initially part of the second one; so the 2nd and 3rd is same singular fee of #19.2m which they claimed was split into two. It is important for people to ask questions to avoid causing confusion.”
Representative of the company handling the project ThreeMplus Integrated Limited, Dare Oguntoye, said though they have not handed over the project to the government, some of the newly installed facilities are being wrongly handled.
“Most of the things they complained about are not true. We discovered that the blockage of the drainage is largely due to poor maintenance by staff. The durability of whatever facilities a government puts in place depends on the quality of handling by the end users.
“And some of the toilets they claimed are not functioning are actually working as you have seen for yourself. They have the keys but chose not to open them.
“Everything is working fine, except the roof of one or two offices that we just discovered to be leaking due to the damage caused by heavy rain.”
Chief Medical Director (CMD), Dr. Oyeniyi Ayodeji, said since the project is not yet delivered it would be unfair to conclude that the execution is substandard, asking members of the public especially Lafiagi residents to be patient and thankful to the government for being responsive to their health needs after many years.
“I urge people to be patient with them. We have little loopholes because of this rain but we have assurances that they will rectify it.”
Some of the places inspected by the visiting team included the power generating house containing Mikano engine; some wards and their toilets; the theatre; X-ray unit where 3 different x-ray machines and ultrasound were in place; and pharmacy unit, among others.