By Essien Blessing Effiong

The Federal Medical Centre, Azare, Bauchi State, on Thursday, 17th March, 2022, marked its 20th years anniversary of the existence of the Centre along the ever-busy Kano-Maiduguri expressway. It has indeed, made it a Centre of patronage for patients and their relations from Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Jigawa and Kano states.

The Centre took off in 2001with Dr Sabo Saleh as the pioneer Medical Director, a staff strength of less than fifty (50) clinical and non-clinical staff, 152 bed cap  acity and 46,254 annual average patient inflow. Considering the need for development of the Centre and emergence of new specialities, the hospital began to develop its permanent site which is approximately one kilometre away from the old site along Azare-Potiskum highway now boast of about 2,000 staff workforce, 412 bed capacity and over 140,000 annual average patient inflow.

The Centre really came alive on Thursday, 17th March, 2022, as personalities from all walks of life were at hand as early as possible in the morning to see for themselves and witness what behold of the Centre after 20 years of its existence in the North-East of Nigeria. The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora, the Emir of Katagum, Alhaji Umar Faruk II, past and present members of the board of management of the Centre, members of the top management committee of Federal Medical Centre, Azare, stakeholders and other personalities were all at hand to be part of the celebration and commissioning of projects in the Centre.

No doubt, a visitor to Azare and the Centre in particular, will indeed appreciate the structure of the hospital, its setting, the equipment and the staff of the hospital and conclude that the Federal Medical Centre, Azare in Bauchi State has come to stay and, in no little time will compete favourably with any world standard hospital following the rapid progress recorded in the lifespan of the Centre in both physical infrastructure, human capital development and equipment put in place to be able to meet the inflow of patients to the hospital all the time.

As the Centre continued to record an influx of patients from both far and near, the need to cater for these teeming clients called for expansion of services through employment of skilled manpower, provision of state-of-the-art medical equipment and infrastructure to ensure effective and efficient healthcare service delivery. Admittedly, the management has been trying its best to maintain a self-motivated and skilled workforce by encouraging and sponsoring staff to undergo long term training. So far, a total of 288 senior/junior clinical staff and 122 senior/junior non-clinical staff were sent for long term training from 2014-2021. In addition, many staff have benefitted from short courses including subspecialty training in various fields of Medicine and Surgery.

The hospital commenced clinical services with provision of a General Out-Patients Department (GOPD) for all non-emergency cases, accidents & emergency care, surgery and medical wards for in-Patient care of Male and female patients as well as paediatric and obstetrics/gynaecological wards for children and women respectively. Basic laboratory and radiology services were also rendered. These services were provided by few medical officers, nurses/midwives, technicians and pharmacists. Today, the hospital has grown significantly with almost all Medical subspecialty departments and units found in any well-established tertiary hospital. Services are now provided by specialist consultants, resident doctors, experienced medical officers, qualified nurses/midwives, pharmacists, laboratory scientists, radiographers, physiotherapists, among others.

Successive regimes from inception of the Centre had acquired numerous medical equipment’s like static X-ray, ultrasound, mammography, fluoroscopy, and laundry machines, generators. In the last eight years, the hospital has acquired more state-of-the-art medical equipment like Computerised Tomography (CT) machine, mobile and static digital x-rays, 4D ultrasound machine, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), Phacoemulsification machine, digital fundus camera, Vitek automated blood culture Machine, power generator. The recent intervention by President Muhammadu Buhari to all federal teaching hospitals, specialty hospitals and federal medical centres to address the outbreak of COVID-19 has gone a long way to address the critical medical equipment needs of the hospital.

The truth must be told that the Centre has fully equipped molecular laboratory, a 10-bedded adult and paediatric, intensive care unit, isolation centre and a large stock of personal protective equipment (PPEs), the Central Bank of Nigeria under its corporate social responsibility constructed, furnished and equipped a multibillion naira ophthalmology complex and pathology complex in the Centre.

As it is today, some of the equipment in the complexes are the only ones in the whole of North-eastern Nigeria. The TETFUND under its Special Intervention Project constructed and furnished a multimillion naira academic and administrative block for the Adamu Adamu College of Nursing Sciences and academic activities has since commenced with admission of over 200 students to study Nursing and Midwifery. For the Centre to fulfil its mandate of efficient healthcare service to humanity and promote research, much emphasis was given to service improvement as the centre provides the cheapest cost-effective clinical services in the whole country in comparison to other federal tertiary hospitals, even though they all go to the same market. The Centre has a comprehensive social welfare system where any patient brought in as an emergency and requires surgical/medical intervention and has no money is attended to with no bias, stressing that such patients benefit from the welfare services which they settle at a later date as this can be attested to by all and sundry.

It is happy to note that the present management has pursued with vigor and enthusiasm the accreditation of residency training programmes in the Centre. Specifically, the Centre has secured accreditation for residency training from the National and West African Postgraduate Colleges in Radiology and West African Postgraduate College in Paediatrics. Residents are now receiving training towards becoming specialists in these medical fields. The accreditation teams from the Postgraduate Colleges for residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Internal Medicine and Ophthalmology departments have visited the Centre, based on their interactions with them, they are very hopeful that soon these departments would receive the approval to commence training.

The Centre has over the years recorded key Infrastructural development meant to provide the necessary conducive environment for effective and efficient healthcare service delivery, the old site and the new permanent site were fenced and gated, construction of doctors flats, conference hall, amenity ward, accident & emergency (A&E), Radiology complex, Paediatrics complex, laundry unit and renovation of the administration block, staff quarters, guest houses, interns quarters, among others.

The last eight (8) years that is 2014 – 2022, the Centre under the leadership of Dr Abdullahi Ibrahim, the Medical Director has achieved further significant growth and development particularly in its permanent site with the completion, furnishing and surrounding landscaping of Prof. Hannatu Lombin House Officers quarters that has been put to use since 2015. The completion and equipping of the Female Surgical Ward (FSW) since 2016, completion of ten (10) shops, surrounding landscaping, furnishing and equipping of Dr Umar Faruq Ibrahim Paediatrics complex and completion, furnishing and equipping of Dr Mohammed Musa Dambam trauma centre including a fully equipped ICU.

Others are surrounding landscaping, furnishing and equipping with state of art medical equipment like CT scanning machine, digital x-ray and 4D ultrasound of Dr Abdullahi Ibrahim Radiology complex, renovation and reactivation of the dialysis unit, provision of two 500KVA power generator sets and two 120KVA UPS, construction and equipping of Sir Muhammadu Sanusi Eye complex by the Central Bank of Nigeria and construction and equipping of Muhammadu Sanusi 11 Pathology complex by the Central Bank of Nigeria. There was also the construction and furnishing of the Adamu Adamu College of Nursing Sciences in collaboration with Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND); construction of hospital walkways measuring 595.7 square connecting the trauma centre, female medical ward, paediatrics complex, radiology complex, ophthalmology complex, and the out-patients clinics; construction of road networks measuring 2.07km including the entrance dual carriageway; construction of the Molecular Laboratory; renovation of the isolation ward, Maternity ward and old Paediatrics ward; renovation of the old accident & emergency unit and converting it to a Nursing students hostel; construction in progress of obstetrics and gynaecology complex and completion of consultants’ offices and temporarily using as a female hostel. Much as the Centre aspires to record more achievements and become greater, it has been showed down by a number of factors like inadequate capital budget and fund release for the development of the permanent site, high cost of electricity and diesel, inadequate overhead budget and fund release, high rate of staff resignation especially skilled clinical staff and increasing cost of consumables.

There is no doubt that with the rapid transformation the Federal Medical Centre, Azare has witnessed within the years of its existence, there are strong indications that the Centre in the near future will be a world class hospital to be reckoned with internationally.

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