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Reviving health facilities amidst proliferation

By Kemi Olatunde

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Health services are fundamental to society and the economy, with health care recognized as a basic human right essential for safeguarding the health and safety of populations. There is no health care without health workers. Healthcare is a part of life and it is our right to have access to healthcare whenever we need it. Without access to healthcare, people are far more at risk. Diseases, malnutrition, pregnancy – all can become incredibly dangerous without proper help and support.

Good access to healthcare is the ability of patients to get the care and services they need when they need them. It includes everything from making an appointment to getting prescriptions filled. Good access is essential to providing high-quality healthcare and ensuring that patients receive their treatment. The importance of access to healthcare cannot be overstated.

When patients have good access to care, they are more likely to receive the necessary care and treatment to keep their condition under control. This can help prevent complications and improve health outcomes.

Good access can also directly lead to improved health outcomes since when patients have good access to care, they are more likely to receive preventive care and screenings. This can help catch health problems early when they are most treatable. Good access to care can also help manage chronic conditions and improve the quality of life for patients. This is good for patients, their families, and the healthcare system.

People can access care either in government or private health facilities. This depends on their perception of these facilities. A good number of residents of Ondo State embrace the patronage of private facilities but they need to know that not all of them are licensed to carry out health services to residents.

It is not so uncommon to see a lot of clinics in the state as they dot almost every nook and cranny of our communities. It is not ideal to just enter into a clinic to enjoy medical care so as not to add more to one’s health challenge.

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Speaking with The Hope, Director, Hospital Services, Ondo State Ministry of Health, Dr. Ayodele Adelusi noted that the main difference between hospitals and clinics is that while clinics render outpatient services, hospitals render both outpatient and inpatient services adding that the scope of service offered is more than that of clinics.

He explained that it is important that health facilities are registered before operation in order not to be identified as illegal facilities.

He said; “According to the regulation of private health institutions of 1989 first section says ‘no person shall institute or conduct a private health institution unless such has been duly registered by the Ministry of Health.’

“For the hospital to be registered, they have to apply for the registration. Certain questions will be put to them which they are expected to provide answers to when they meet the requirements, they are licensed to operate in the state.”

He said that for anyone to open a clinic, it is important that such person(s) apply at the Ministry and supply relevant information after which the Ministry visits the environment to ensure that the supplied information is true.

While stating that the license of both doctors and nurses in health facilities is crucial, he noted that the government believes that anyone certified by all the medical regulatory council can practice saying “This way, we guarantee the quality of health care delivery in the state.”

Speaking extensively, he noted that it is unacceptable for unregistered facilities to operate in the state, describing them as illegal adding that “basically, all of these unregistered facilities mostly do not have qualified personnel. When they don’t have a legal basis to run the services, they shouldn’t be operational in the state.”

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He explained that some illegal facilities have been heavily sanctioned by the Health Ministry stating that some of them are being run by unqualified persons.

“To run a clinic, there is a requirement in terms of adequate personnel in terms of both quantity and quality, equipment, and the layout of the facilities (water supply, waste management, etc.)

“The monitoring team of the Ministry has been up and doing. In the last two months, we have carried out the monitoring of private hospitals in Odigbo, Ondo West, Akure South, and Akoko North East Local Government.

He described Odigbo Local Government as the headquarters of quackery in the state noting that a lot of unregistered substandard facilities dot the communities.

According to him, most chemists that operate as hospitals have been sanctioned saying “people not qualified to attend to patients were discovered to be attending to them.

While decrying a patent medicine store in Ore that was turned into a treatment center, he said that it is not proper to train an auxiliary nurse in order not to jeopardize the future of a person.

His words: “When you train an auxiliary nurse, after graduation, what happens to such a nurse? Can she work with the government? No, Her future is destroyed because she is a quack. Her hope of becoming a nurse has been dashed.

Commenting on the effects of patronage of unregistered facilities on patients, he explained that patients may come down with worsened health condition(s) which according to him may also result in untimely death.

He called on intending owners of private health facilities to visit the health ministry for proper guidance adding that those with unregistered facilities should do the needed in order not to attract the wrath of the law.

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He also called on residents to obtain qualitative health care at government hospitals or other registered health facilities adding that they should desist from patronizing those who claim to treat all ailments.

Commissioner for Health, Dr. Banji Awolowo Ajaka stated that the state has zero tolerance for quackery saying “We don’t want anyone to kill our people untimely and anyone caught will be dealt with according to the law.”

“Some people have been arrested and prosecuted while some hospitals have been closed down.”

He said that the government is doing the needful to ensure that an improved health sector is obtainable in the state calling on all health workers especially doctors to deliver quality health care to residents.

According to findings, between March and April 2024, the monitoring team closed down several facilities.

In Odigbo Local Government, 23 facilities were visited out of which 12 were registered. 11 of them were not registered while 13 facilities were closed down.

In Akoko North East Local Government, 14 facilities were visited by the team. Nine of them are duly registered, five facilities were unregistered, three facilities were closed down and two facilities were given warning to complete their registration process.

In Ondo West Local Government, eight facilities were visited out of which six were registered while two were not registered. Three health facilities were closed down including one which was closed on request.

17 facilities were visited in Akure South out of which 14 are registered while three of them were not registered and one was already closed down.

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