There is a saying that, “a wealthy nation is a healthy nation”. This is because better health is central to human happiness and well-being. Healthy population makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more. In fact, for a country to progress it must provide quality health services to the people to ensure high productivity.
It is, therefore, not a surprise that in the governance matrix of Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, healthcare is prioritized as it is understood to be a factor in the quest of the government to make life easier and Lagosians happier. The administration of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, though barely a year old, has recorded some impressive performance in the health sector just as in other sectors which have made the journey thus far a glorious beginning in the fulfilment of an electoral mandate which took off on May 29, 2015.
Ambode recognizes, and rightly so, that health is wealth and here is one area that his impact is being felt in spite of the huge challenges occasioned by the influx of people from other states and neighboring countries on Lagos hospitals. As a leader who believes firmly in adhering to all the principles of democracy, the compassionate governor has wasted no time before he requested for stakeholders summit on health to address challenges facing healthcare delivery system in the state.
Sequel to that, Governor Ambode has taken proactive steps to address issues affecting the sector to guarantee positive development.
To make it possible for communities to feel the impact of governance at the grassroots, the governor has improved on healthcare facilities in the state by injecting additional 46 ambulances to the existing pool with an additional 14 new ambulance points thereby bringing existing ambulance points to 25 all in a bid to reduce maternal mortality and tackle emergencies. These also serve as part of efforts to increase access to the grassroots and to enable them take possession of services they render in the various localities. The governor has also impressed it on residents of the state to make use of the ambulances adding that they are available 24/7 if residents call 112 whenever there is an emergency. It could be recalled that in the past, there was no capacity to tackle emergencies in the state until 2001 when then governor of the state, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu inaugurated ambulance services as part of effort to tackle healthcare needs of the state.
Many factors influence health status and a country’s ability to provide quality health services for its people. Ministries of health are important actors, but so are other government departments, donor organizations, civil society groups and communities themselves. For example: investments in roads can improve access to health services; inflation targets can constrain health spending; and civil service reform can create opportunities – or limits – to hiring more health workers. This complex links between factors that guaranteed good health is not lost on AA with how he has been anchoring his itesiwaju ilu eko on an ambitious and very realistic integrated development programmes sufficient to sustain Lagos as economic hub of Africa.
The governor has brought peace to the lingering crisis within the medical circle. He has stopped the contentious casualisation of workers in the state. For instance, the medical doctors who were employed some years ago as casual staffs have had their employ¬ment regularized while same were ex¬tended to those in the state civil ser¬vice. But he’s also aware of the need for a healthy and motivated work¬force which is why he has also ex¬tended the Accident Insurance Policy for its workforce to cover accidents recorded outside working hours.
The Lagos State free maternal health is in fact, similar, in many respects, to that which obtains in the Scandinavia countries where absolute medical attention is paid to both expectant and newly delivered mothers and their babies. With a solid foundation at the infant age, the child is expected to grow up to become strong, healthy and bright. And as the saying goes, a bright child is one of the greatest assets to society.
Another very important aspect of the AA commitment is the plan to provide x-ray machines to all Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) as part of efforts to upgrade them to international standard and that drugs will now be made readily available in all the PHCs for residents.
Former Vice President of the United States (US), Al Gore, who has since moved on to become one of the world’s respected political icons, progressive voices and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, in his latest book, The Assault on Reason, succinctly posited that the success of any democratic government depends on its openness, reliability and responsiveness to the needs and aspirations of the citizenry. In fact, to maintain that he was damn right and apt is to state the obvious. And he indeed went ahead to pontificate that “where there is leadership with vision and moral courage, the people will flourish” and society will be better for it.
This aptly captures and reinforces the governance matrix and phenomenon initiated by His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration, which briefly put is that: the government of Lagos State would remain open and responsive to the people of the state both at home and abroad, driven by a common vision and aspiration.