BENJAMIN SAMSON in this report examines how the 200-bed capacity Green Smart Hospital being built by the Naval Officers’ Wives Association (NOWA) will change the narrative of women and children health care delivery in Nigeria.
The Naval Officers’ Wives Association (NOWA) recently flagged off the construction of a N15 billion 200-bed capacity hospital in Abuja. Speaking at the foundation-laying ceremony of the hospital, the National President of NOWA, Mrs. Nana Aisha Gambo, said it is the first of its kind in Nigeria.
She said the project which is the biggest since inception of NOWA is a direct intervention in support of Nigerian Navy operations.
The proposed hospital is a 200-beds state-of-the-art Green Smart Hospital to develop on 2.1 hectares of land at Galadimawa District in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to Mrs. Gambo, the location is ideal and impacts not only the populace of the immediate vicinity, but Nigeria as a whole.
“Notably, the hospital project which has its sole focus on the drive to curb poor diagnosis and treatment of women and children has been branded with excellence, after extensive consultations with leading authorities in the health organisation locally and internationally.
“Furthermore, the hospital is designed to bring efficient and affordable women and children health care services to the general public to contribute to the overall health care delivery in the country,” she said.
She added that the project which is environmentally friendly will employ telemedicine in its operations.
She said: “The proposed hospital will also leverage telemedicine, which enables virtual telehealth options for engagement of local and international health care practitioners remotely to, to support the management and operations of the hospital to reach long distance individuals, the family and community as well as primary health care centres.
“This will make up for the deficit of health care professionals in the country, reducing delay in accessing health care facilities in urban areas, and increasing access to quality health information and services in the rural and hard-to- reach communities.”
“Furthermore, the hospital project is intended to be environmentally friendly, by playing a vital role in achieving climate neutrality, efficiency and cost reduction.
Accordingly, several measures have been put in place to have a ‘Green Hospital.’ These measures include the improvement in hospital design, construction, operation and maintenance of the building life cycle; the sustainable use of water and energy; and utilisation of chemicals, which have a minimal impact on the environment.”
Why the project?
Also, at a fund-raising for the project organised at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja, which saw in attendance the military service chiefs, Chairman of Dangote Group, Mr. Aliko Dangote, Founder of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia, among others, Hajiya Gambo, said the high infant and maternal mortality rate in the country informed the decision of the association to embark on the construction of the hospital.
She said the decision to embark on the project was informed by the grim statistics released by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on the state of health of women and children in Nigeria.
“The report reveals that approximately 40 million Nigerian women of child-bearing age suffer a high level of health issues during childbirth.
“Although Nigeria represents 2.4 per cent of world population, it contributes 10 percent to global deaths for pregnant mothers representing a maternal mortality rate of 576 deaths per 100,000 live births which is the fourth highest rate in the world. The report equally reveals that about 262,000 babies die at birth in Nigeria annually. This is the second highest figure in the world.
“Currently, infant mortality stands at 69 deaths per 1, 000 live births and rises to 128 deaths per 1, 000 live births for children under the age of five. These statistics illustrate the health conditions of women and children in Nigeria.”
Mrs. Gambo further noted that with 33,000 general hospitals, 59 teaching hospitals and federal medical centres in the country, health facilities remained inadequate hence the decision to embark on the women and children hospital.
“The project is estimated to cost N15 billion and it is projected to be commissioned into use by the second quarter of 2023.”
The NOWA president also appealed to well-meaning Nigerians to contribute to the funding of the project.
Speaking further on the benefits of the hospital, she said it will bridge the gap of the ratio of doctors to patients in Nigeria, while bringing succour to the military family especially those whose spouses and parents are away on operations.
“NOWA recognises the import of creating job opportunities for Nigerians. It is on record that the WHO recommends a country to have a 1:600 doctor to patient ratio. However, presently Nigeria has about 2:2753 doctor to patient ratio.
“This situation is alarming and has left most hospital waiting rooms stacked with patients waiting to see a doctor who is already overwhelmed. Again, Nigeria’s health sector has currently recorded an increase in the number of medical doctors seeking migration.
“In this regard, it is gratifying to state that the NOWA women and Children Green Smart Hospital when completed would provide employment opportunities for many Nigerians, especially in the health sector. It would equally bring up possible revolutionary solutions to alleviate the heavy demand on health care providers not only within the hospital bus as far as the whole Nigeria.
“Relatedly, as wives of serving military personnel, NOWA understands the demand and importance for healthcare provision to the family of personnel especially when the men are away doing their tour of duty.
“In an area where there is no naval or military hospital, the exorbitant prices placed on health care are often overwhelming for families of such personnel. This can in turn affect their performance in safeguarding the interest of national security which can be detrimental to the nation. Thus, it is envisaged that having this specialised hospital would significantly bring succor to the military family thereby helping to improve their operational efficiency.”
The First Lady
On her part, the special guest of honour and wife of the president, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, represented by wife of the vice-president, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, commended NOWA for the initiative. She said the project when completed would help cater for the health care needs of women and children in Nigeria.
According to her, the statistics on health care needs particularly as it relates to women and children has revealed a need for urgent intervention.
She said: “This facility will be beneficial to Nigerian Navy Personnel families, Sister Service’s families and other security agencies families and indeed the entire nation. It is also gratifying to note that this project will help some hard to reach rural areas who will now have access to this facility. The federal government will continue to intervene in quality health care delivery and only recently committed to revitalising primary healthcare delivery in Nigeria due to its impact on rural communities.
“Let me state here that in the face of dwindling revenue, the federal government welcomes projects such as this that brings succor to a large part of our society. I therefore commend the NOWA president, her team and indeed the entire Nigerian Navy family for rising to the occasion and heeding the clarion call to contribute to the onerous task on nation-building.
“On my part, I pledge to support this project and other worthy causes that the NOWA organisation may wish to embark on. I am also quite happy that this project will be delivered within the tenure of this administration further underlining our collective resolve to address our challenges one after the other.
“Let me end this speech with a quote from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, she said ‘if you want a thing said ask a man, but if you want a thing done ask a woman.’ I ask the NOWA president, Hajiya Nana Gambo, to build a hospital we will all be proud of.”
Also, speaking at the fund-raising, Mrs. Buhari, who was represented by the wife of the former Minister of Interior, Hajia Hadiza Danbazau, commended the association for the initiative, adding that the project when completed would be very beneficial to Nigerians.
According to her, the statistics on health care needs particularly as it relates to women and children has called for urgent intervention.
Likewise, the Minister of FCT, Muhammad Musa Bello, represented by the Mandate secretary FCT Health and Human Services, Abubakar Tafida, said the project will provide succour to women and children in the city.
He said: “The ceremony we are gathered here to witness represents one of the cardinal achievements of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari which has provided a peaceful enabling environment that has permitted all of us to contribute our individual and collective quotas to the development of our society.
“I commend NOWA for not only conceiving this laudable project but also for its determination and tenacity in ensuring that it comes into fruition. The construction of this modern specialized hospital that will not only meet global best practices in terms of safeguarding the environment but also leveraging technology to provide quality health care is very welcome indeed as it also advances our ongoing efforts to make Abuja a green and smart city.
“As one of the fastest growing cities in the world, with an increasing cosmopolitan demography, the provision of internationally acceptable health care service is a major priority of the FCT administration. We have therefore put in place very deliberate measures to attract private sector participation in the health sector, while also making considerable investment in the public health sector. Our efforts in both instances are paying off as our public health institutions are judged as one of the best in the country.
“This hospital by NOWA is therefore a very welcome addition to the FCT medical landscape and we are indeed very proud to be associated with it .The FCT administration thereby pledges its cooperation towards the completion of this project.”
Similarly, the president of Defence and Police Officers’ Wives Association (DEPOWA), Barrister Vickie Irabor, while commending NOWA, pledged DEPOWA’s moral and financial support towards the completion of the project.
“I recall the early stages of our appointment, when I discussed ideas with the president, Nigerian Army Officer Wives Association (NAOWA), NOWA and Nigerian Air Force Officers’ Wives Association (NAFOWA), on what projects we could bring to life based on our personal passions, stories and journeys that support the mandate of a professional armed forces and at the end contribute to an improved barracks community.
“I remember vividly that the NOWA president was biased towards initiatives that would improve the health of women and children. It is therefore not a surprise that her passion has been neutered towards the establishment of this facility which I believe will be the first of many.
“I am excited that this facility will directly complement the overall objectives of DEPOWA which is uniting our voices first. It is laudable that the NOWA president has towed the line of modernisation and ingenuity with a smart model of the facility as it would no doubt take hospital service delivery up the notch and serve as a new benchmark health care delivery in Nigeria.
“I am glad that this facility has taken into account the mental health of women and children by creating a green environment, a key element in the mental healing process. May I at this juncture assure NOWA of the unflinching support of DEPOWA with all hands on deck to support this project morally and financially?”