After many years of waiting with attendant dashed hopes and expectations, the Cottage Hospital, a major health facility in Igbaja, Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State was refurbished by the state government and commissioned for use on Monday. AHMED 'LATEEF attended the event
Igbaja is an ancient Igbomina town in the present day of Ifelodun Local Government Area of the state. By its status, prominence and hierarchical order, it is a leader among other towns in the council area. Located in a serene environment with sizeable land mass, the town is blessed with habitable climatic condition.
Beside the serenity of the environment, the ancient town with first class status in the traditional and chieftaincy benchmark also shares some common features with Ilorin, the state capital.
As Ilorin is regarded as centre of attraction for schools especially higher institutions of learning, so also Igbaja community with some citadels of academy such as the mini-campus of the Al-Hikmah University, a faith-based varsity.
A first visitor into the town is likely to be astonished by beautiful edifices built some metres away from the main road or highbrow spots. The structures compellingly draw attention of passersby who may take a second look while plying the road.
But there appeared to be a snag in spite of the fascinating buildings that dotted some spots in the town. Its major health centre known as Igbaja Cottage Hospital had become dilapidated. The decrepit condition of the medical facility instigated some questions, particularly on why the centre, a converging point for people in need of medical attention, had turned an eyesore.
Apparently, the hospital had for long been abandoned with dashed hope palpably beclouding the community not minding its status in Ifelodun council area.
And incidentally, the cottage hospital was established as a central medical facility to serve not only Igbaja community but also adjourning communities and settlements across Igbaja district.
The essence of building the hospital, according to findings, was to attend to emergency cases and as well as discouraging people who hitherto took long and excruciating journey to Egbe in Kogi State before assessing medical treatment that could ordinarily be assessed within their reach.
Although the hospital was being used in the past with patients and the likes visiting it from time to time to get the required medical treatment for their various health challenges. But no sooner the facility was abandoned than people turned away their eyes and began to look elsewhere for medical help.
The once beautiful edifice consequently became haven for reptiles and ants just as some portions of the structure had also fallen off.
Worried by the development, some concerned stakeholders including Elese of Igbaja, Oba Ahmed Awuni Arepo, a member of the state House of Assembly for Omupo Constituency, Hon. Mashood Olanrewaju Bakare and a former Commissioner for Works and Transport, Mr Olabode Olayemi, took it upon themselves to meet the state government and liaise with relevant agencies of government to address the anomaly afflicting the medical centre.
Acting on their intervention, the state government through the Ministry of Health dispatched a team to assess the level of damages on the hospital with a view to proffering quick fix. And subsequently a comprehensive renovation was carried out on the hospital to the tune of over N70million at the instance of the government.
However, what appeared to be a dashed hope turned to smile on Monday in Igbaja. Top government functionaries converged on the newly refurbished and equipped cottage hospital, which was commissioned for use of the people of Igbaja district.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Transition Implementation Committee Chairman of Ifelodun Local Government Area, Alhaji Fatai Adeniyi Garuba, expressed gratitude to the state government for carrying out the comprehensive renovation of the hospital.
He said the people of the council have noticed the due attention given to the health sector by the present administration including renovation of tertiary health institutions, provision of drugs and equipment, which he pointed out, have been facilitating health service delivery.
The TIC chairman, however, commended the Igbaja Peoples Forum for committing millions of naira to the renovation of Igbaja Basic Health Centre commissioned few days ago.
Garuba assured that his administration would ensure that trained and skilled health staff were posted to the health centres as well as supplying adequate drugs to them for the use of the people.
He implored the people of Igbaja community to adequately utilize the hospital considering the huge amount of money spent by the state government despite the economic recession.
"Since inception of this administration, greater priority has been giving to the health care of our people. This was noticeable from different health care activities embarked upon by the state government such as elaborate renovation of General Hospitals across the state, employment of doctors, nurses and other health workers, supply of essential drugs to all hospitals, distribution of treated nets and timely promotion of staff.
"The entire people of Ifelodun LGA are indeed very grateful to the government of Kwara State for different developmental programmes being carried out in the council. We shall continue to give our support to the government under our amiable governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed", the TIC chairman said.
Also speaking, the National President of Igbaja Descendants Union, Alhaji Lanre Yusuf, urged the state government and the council chairman to assist the hospital with additional medical staff in order to avert possible rural-urban migration in search of health care.
He noted that it was imperative to deploy sizeable number of staff in the hospital to attend to the health needs of patients and advised people of the community to also patronize the facility whenever the need arises.
Yusuf, who thanked the state government for completing and commissioning the project in record time, also praised the role played by a member representing Omupo Constituency in the state Assembly, Bakare and a former Commissioner for Works and Transport in the state, Olayemi.
In his remark, Mr Bode Olayemi, expressed delight over the completion of the project, describing it as an eyesore before the government decided to carry out the renovation.
He thanked Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed for releasing fund for the project, adding that the hospital has been sufficiently equipped to address the health needs of the people within Igbaja axis.
In the same vein, a member of the state House of Assembly, Bakare called on community leaders to guard the edifice against vandalization and praised the Governor for fulfilling his promise to the people of Igbaja district.
The lawmaker also announced his readiness to foot the bill of first 20 people to register with the hospital.
In his speech, the Elese of Igbaja, Oba Awuni Arepo, who expressed appreciation to the state government for seeing through the completion of the project, appealed for deployment of adequate medical personnel to the medical centre, adding that the medical officers must be mandated to reside in the town.
He stated that medical personnel dispatched in the past chose to live in urban areas and were unable to attend to emergency cases when they arose.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Suleiman Atolagbe Alege, who represented Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, at the event assured that the medical staff needed in the hospital will be deployed to complement the effort of the existing personnel.
While appealing to the people of Igbaja district to patronize the hospital, the Commissioner also urged community stakeholders to lead campaign to various households and hamlets in ensuring that the medical centre is patronized.
He urged pregnant women to make use of the hospital for their ante-natal, assuring that the facility had been adequately equipped.
He pledged the commitment of the government to make available affordable health care services to the people, particularly in rural communities, saying the measure will reduce influx of rural dwellers into urban centres in search of medical treatment.
The hospital commissioning, which was performed by the Health Commissioner, was graced by eminent personalities including a former Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Ilorin, Mr Christopher Ayeni; and traditional rulers including Akogun of Balogun Oja, Oba Ishola Mumini and Oniyaru of Yaru, Oba Anidu Afolabi among others.
Kwara State Commissioner for Health, Alhaji Suleiman Atolagbe Alege (2nd left) being assisted by Elese of Igbaja, Oba Ahmed Awuni Arepo (middle) with Hon Mashood Bakare of KWHA (2nd right) and TIC Chairman of Ifelodun LGA, Alhaji Abdulfatai Garuba, at the commissioning of Cottage Hospital, Igbaja, Ifelodun LGA, Kwara State.