By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that dependence on foreign countries for medical treatment could be reduced by turning around the health sector in the country.
The President noted that health services in rural areas deserved more attention.
Buhari said this at the commissioning ceremony of Nigerian Air Force Reference Hospital in Daura, his hometown, Katsina State.
According to him, significant strides have been made to life expectancy and reduced some of the killer diseases associated with child and maternal mortality to less than 70 deaths per 100, 000 live births by the year 2030, as planned in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
He said, ”Despite this, more efforts are needed to fully eradicate a wide range of diseases and many persistent and emerging health issues in our society.”
“To achieve this, we must now redouble efforts to focus on providing more efficient funding of the health sector, improve sanitation and hygiene, and increase access to medical care in the rural areas in order to save lives of millions of Nigerians, ” President Buhari added.
He assured that the efforts by the Federal Government would be redoubled to improve health facilities, equipment and services in the country, listing people living in rural areas as top on priority for better health services.
The President said that the Federal Government had, in the last four years, invested resources in the health sector, with increased budgetary allocation moving from N259 billion (Two hundred and fifty-nine billion nairas in 2015 to over N340 billion (Three hundred and forty billion naira) in 2018.
“There is therefore no more auspicious time to commission this Reference Hospital than now,’’ he added.
President Buhari commended the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar for situating the Reference Hospital, with state-of-art medical equipment for radio-diagnosis, cancer screening, dialysis, laboratory diagnosis and research, in Daura to serve the aligning states and communities.
“This hospital will minimise the need for people in these areas to travel to Kano, Kaduna, Abuja or even overseas to receive medical treatment.
“I urge you to maintain the highest standard and quality of services the military is known for in attending to patients and the host community. Maintenance is central to efficiency and satisfactory service delivery,’’ the President said.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Mrs Nuratu Batagarawa, said the project was conceived and implemented with personnel of the military and the community in mind to provide quality health services.
In his remarks, the Chief of Air Staff said the 60 bed capacity hospital had a total of nine medical consultants, as well as 61 general medical practitioners and dentists.
“These developments have significantly enhanced the capacity of the medical services Branch to provide quality healthcare to our personnel,’’ he said.
The Chief of Air Staff also noted that the hospital had ultra-modern operating theatres, an intensive care unit, medical laboratory, eye and dental clinics and a physiotherapy department.