Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, Tuesday passionately appealed to the State’s health workers never to embark on strike again no matter the provocation or disagreement between them and the State Government saying they have the onerous responsibility to save life.
Governor Fashola, who spoke at the Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, venue of the 2015 State Council on Health, told the gathering of doctors, nurses and other health workers that they must reach a consensus never to go on strike again adding that their professional calling has placed them in a position akin to that of God on earth.
“I ask this not for myself; I ask it for the public that you serve. I have said repeatedly and I will say it again, you are like God on earth and God does not go on strike. And I believe that when all is said and done, we cannot live a life without government and differences”, the Governor said adding that a duty to save life and the skills to do so were highly valued skills.
Recalling a time in his early career as a young lawyer when he and some of his colleagues planned to go on strike, Governor Fashola said when the late Chief FRA Williams heard about it, they were summoned and the veteran legal luminary warned that he would be the first to petition against them as lawyers don’t go on strike.
“The only reason he gave us was: “What about your clients; what would you tell them?” the Governor said adding that if lawyers could not go on strike in order not to delay justice to their clients, the onus lay more heavily on doctor and other health workers who have the onerous responsibility to save life.
“Now, I don’t know how Physicians see themselves but I know how I see them. When you lie down and you are ill, that is the time the full weight of a Physician dawns on you. I told some people the other day that the Physician and the Nurse are the only people who can tell you not to go out today and you won’t argue. It is an awesome power”, he said.
Citing other examples to highlight the enormous powers of health workers, Governor Fashola declared, “the powers you have over us do not come ordinarily because I believe powers and privileges come with enormous responsibilities. So, I make that appeal today and I hope that somehow you will find a consensus and, perhaps, truly then could we set ourselves aside as Centre of Excellence”.
Governor Fashola praised the State’s Health workers whom he said, against all odds, had remained resourceful, inventive and unyielding in seeking to keep the people of Lagos in a state of well-being adding that the ever increasing population of the State remained the greatest challenge.
The Governor, who noted that the occasion was the last State Council on Health he would chair as Governor, declared, “Normally, I am not a person given to self praise or adulation, but on this occasion that passes as a farewell to the Council, it will be remiss of me not to salute our health workers”.
“Against the odds, the Lagos State Health family has been resourceful, inventive and unyielding in seeking to keep the people of this State in a state of well-being. And speaking of odds, there are quite a number. But perhaps the most challenging of them is the dynamic one, the ever growing population of Lagos”, he said.
Describing the Lagos State Health family as the Nigerian Health family, Governor Fashola explained further, “People from all over the country choose our State as the first place of choice not only because of the quality of healthcare they receive but also because of the free health policy that we operate in many spheres”.
Such sphere offered by the free health policy, the Governor said, include antenatal care, Malaria, accidents and emergencies, free screening for so many ailments such as Cancer and Tuberculosis adding that the screening are deepening down from secondary to primary healthcare level.
The Governor said in terms of infrastructure, his administration’s impact has been felt especially in the area where it has sought to reduce infant and maternal mortality adding, “We have delivered today seven out of ten Maternal and Childcare Centres, each a 100-bed facility for women and children. The remaining three, I believe, will be completed before the end of the year”.
“We now have a state-of-the-art Burns Unit; the Ayinke House is undergoing a total reconstruction and re-equipment and should be completed in a matter of weeks. We now have the largest Cardiac and Renal Centre in the whole of West Africa in Gbagada and it is now undergoing pre-commissioning testing and will open very soon for business. Our new School of Nursing in Igando, Alimosho is up and running”, he said.
On public health issues, Governor Fashola asserted that his administration has become very aggressive in combating them adding that in the last six years, no case of Polio infection has been reported in Lagos in spite of the heavy immigrant population, a situation, which he said the Government intends to keep that way.
Government, he also said, has continued to run special health missions from local government to local government and even to motor parks during which health services are directly taken “to the grassroots for free”.
According to him, the goitre intervention programme by his administration has also given relief especially to the people of Badagry who were found to be largely susceptible to the ailment, adding that apart from surgical intervention, Government has commissioned a very detailed study in order to achieve a better understanding on the cause and pre-eminence of the ailment in that part of the State.
Recalling that the first cochlear transplant was recently performed in the State’s University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Governor Fashola said he has approved the expansion of the programme “to give practical demonstration of our commitment to support people who are living with the disability especially those afflicted with hearing difficulties”.
“Our indoor residual screening has helped to reduce the effect of Malaria infection among our people. Improved water supply from Iju and Adiyan Waterworks, the provision of 15 mini waterworks, each giving two million gallons of water per day totaling 30 million gallons, has helped to improve hygiene levels”, he said.
Also the resuscitation of many sewage treatment plants and massive advocacy has combined to empower the people about communicable and non-communicable diseases and how to avoid illness, the Governor said adding, “Our ultimate goal is to prevent people from falling ill. Our policies and laws such as the Cremation Law and Public Health Law have set our State apart in its capacity to respond to public health challenges”.
Governor Fashola expressed gratitude to Dr. Bola Olaosebikan for his Awards to him praising his “exertions and his untiring efforts to put forward before members of the public his administration’s “very modest contributions in terms of discharging our primary responsibility which is to save life in the State”. “That is our most onerous responsibility to save human life”, he said.
Dedicating the three awards, “Healthcare Excellence High Achiever’s Award, Healthcare Governor of the Year and Governor of the Republic” to the State commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Modele Oshunkiyesi, and Special Adviser on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina, Governor Fashola declared, “For all of us, they are all truly winners of those awards”.
“Yes, it is easy to single out a leader and give awards but inside me I know that those awards belong to all those workers who spend selfless hours attending to our residents and our citizens.
Noting that when his administration committed to healthcare it did so with a purpose in order to discharge its most onerous duty, Governor Fashola thanked former Commissioner for Health in the State, Doctor Leke Pitan, who, he noted was “always able to find time to be at every health function we have held in the State” adding, that such continued interest could only come from nothing other than passion.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, Dr. Olaosebikan praised the Governor for sterling leadership in the last eight years saying the Governor was leaving behind a legacy of inspirational leadership that would continue to motivate future leaders while Lagos would remain a reference point from which other States would continue to learn.
Describing the Lagos State Health system as the best in Nigeria, Dr. Olaosebikan declared, “Lagos has given us inspiration, Lagos State healthcare System is the best in Nigeria, it is the most accessible, available affordable and acceptable”, adding, “In the last eight years, Lagos State has been the biggest spender on Healthcare in Nigeria”.
Also present at the occasion were members of the State Executive Council including the Commissioner for health, Dr. Jide Idris, and his Special Duties counterpart, Dr. Wale Ahmed, Permanent secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Modele Oshunkiyesi, Special Adviser on Public health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina, prominent Physicians and members of the Medical Profession such as Dr. Ore Falomo, Traditional rulers, other stakeholders in the healthcare sector and top government functionaries.