Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari has lamented the poor state of healthcare services in Nigeria, including the State House Clinic, Abuja, established to take care of the President, Vice-President, their families as well as members of staff of the Presidential Villa.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn Child, Adolescent Health and Nutrition (RMNCAH+N) held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Aisha Buhari also revealed that there was no single syringe at the Aso Rock clinic.
At the event, Aisha Buhari described Nigeria’s health sector as very poor and called out the State House Medical Centre’s Chief Medical Director, Dr. Hussain Munir who was present at the meeting.
She lamented the lack of drugs and equipment at the clinic, adding that the management must explain the use of funds allocated to the medical facility.
The President’s wife was angry that she could not get treatment at the State House Clinic few weeks ago when she fell sick and did not want to travel abroad for such ailment.
According to her, she was shocked that the x-ray machine was not working despite the huge funds allocated to the clinic explaining that she had to go to a private hospital owned by foreigners because of the poor state of the Aso Villa Clinic.
Admitting that Nigeria was unstable in the last six months owing largely to the President’s ill-health that forced him to remain outside the country for months, Aisha Buhari wondered what could have happened to a common man on the street if Buhari could spend several months outside Nigeria for health reasons. Her words:
“Before I commence my speech, I will like to be realistic and say a few words concerning health and health delivery system in Nigeria.
“The Nigerian health sector is in a very, very, very poor sorry state to say the least. I am happy the MD of Aso Rock Clinic is here. Dr. Munir, I am happy you are here.
“As you are all aware, for the last six months, Nigeria wasn’t stable because of my husband’s ill-health. We thank God he has fully recovered now. If somebody like Mr. President can spend several months outside Nigeria, then you wonder what will happen to a man in the street.
“A few weeks ago, I was sick as well. They advised me to take the first flight out to London; I refused to go. I said I must be treated in Nigeria because there is a budget for an assigned clinic to take care of us. If the budget is N100m, we need to know how the budget is spent.
“Along the line, I insisted they call Aso Clinic to find out if the X-ray machine is working. They said it was not working. They didn’t know I was the one that was supposed to be in that hospital at that very time.
“I had to go to a hospital that was established by foreigners 100 percent. What does that mean?
“So, I think it is high time we did the right thing. If something like this can happen to me, there is no need for me to ask the governors’ wives what is happening in their states. This is Abuja and this is the highest seat of government, and this is the Presidential Villa.
“One of the speakers has already said we have very good policies in Nigeria; in fact, we have the best policies in Africa. Yes, of course, we have, but the implementation has been the problem. So, we need to change our mindset and do the right thing.
“I am sure Dr. Munir will not like me saying this but I have to say it out. As the Chief Medical Director, there are a lot of constructions going on in this hospital but there is no single syringe there.
“What does that mean? Who will use the building? We have to be good in reasoning. You are constructing a new building and there is no equipment, no consumables in the hospital and the construction is still going on.”
According to Aisha Buhari, the pitiable condition of health facilities in the country aggravated the impetus to secessionist agitation by the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, when President Buhari was on medical vacation in London.
“Going back to the same health issue in Nigeria, as a result of spending several months by the President outside Nigeria, a 40-year-old man, who is still living in his father’s house, created a state out of a state and that is a major setback for the country and the health sector did not benefit,” she said.
The President’s wife stressed that the stakeholders meeting is aimed towards building alliances that will help strengthen advocacy for RMNCAH+N at the state level.
By creating a strong coalition, Aisha Buhari said it would in turn increase awareness on the importance of improving RMNCAH+N, promote advocacy for better service and increased utilisation of RMNCAH+N services.
The event was organised by her pet project, Future Assured. It had state governors’ wives, development partners, primary healthcare coordinators and other stakeholders in attendance.
One of the President’s daughters, Zahra Indimi, had also recently called out the Permanent Secretary of the State House, Mr. Jalal Arabi, over the poor state of the clinic despite huge annual budgets for the facility.
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In response, Arabi had said the management of the clinic would, among other things, seek its commercialisation to address its dwindling fortunes.