Barely three weeks after formally declaring his governorship ambition under the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Cross River State, former Presidential Aide, Barr. Venatius Ikem has unveiled his blueprint for the development of the state.

Ikem, a former Spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP who defied the January 30th attack by thugs allegedly hired by the PDP in the State to declare his ambition in Obudu, his home town, had said the unveiling will take a sector-by-sector approach.

Tagged '' A synopsis from my Blueprint for Social and Economic Reforms'', Ikem in a social media page last weekend unveiled part of his proposed Public Health Sector Reform stating that the state is currently poor if the saying '' health is wealth'' is to be considered regarding the health architecture of Cross River State.                     
He however proposed among others, radical reforms that will drive the improvement of the sector.                               
Below are excerpt of Ikem's Public Health Sector Reforms. (1) :
They  say health is wealth. If the measure of the wealth of CRS is her health, I dare say we are poor indeed. Maybe this is not exactly fair enough. Put differently, if the institutions in existence to manage our health is a measure of how well we are, then indeed we are poor. But you must agree with me that there is a co terminus between the institutions and actual health care delivery. I won't delve into stats on our wellbeing but I can do same for institutions established and maintained by our government to manage our  health.

First, the entire public health sector of CRS has in its employ a total of 39 medical doctors, two of whom are on contract! These 39"  medical  magicians"  cater for hospitals in the 18 local governments of CRS, including calabar general hospital. This means they attend to several hundred thousand if not millions of patients annually.  It is possible a few others are sitting cozy in some offices in calabar as administrators. I am talking about those still involved in the practical job of saving lives. We also have all of 7 pharmacists!

None or almost none of these magicians is resident in any of the hospitals because there are no facilities to accommodate and cater for them.

About 50 years ago when I was a kid I recall that my mother used to take me to hospital whenever I fall ill  and as a child it was always fun to be cared for by Dr. Palato one legendary Irish paediatrician of the Medical Order of The Sisters of St.  Mary. For your information they established and own the Sacred Heart Hospital Obudu, the school for the visually handicapped, Obudu etc as part of their mission work before Nigeria's Independence! I recall that adults used to be attended to by other Doctors with women attended to mostly by gynaecologists, depending on their ailment. In short there was indeed an hospital. Till date Obudu still has no additional public secondary health care facility more than 70 years after the establishment of SHH.

I was born to see General hospital Ogoja and Moniaya hospital ogoja which served a bit like referral hospitals to adjoining ones like SHH Obudu. It will be safe to say they are all over 70 years old. There is still no additional public health addition to Ogoja. At best the administration of Donald Duke attempted a general hospital at Okpoma, Yala just like they did at Obudu but both are yet to come into active operation more than 15 years after contracts for their establishment had been executed and paid for. I can say almost the same for Ikom, Obubra and indeed most parts of our state.

There once was a school of midwifery at Obudu and ogoja and nursing at Ogoja, Obubra, calabar. They produced some of the best nurses in this country still proudly serving in many parts of Nigeria and the world. Today, there is only one school of nursing at Itigidi, Abi Local govt. The rest lost their accreditation!

I have painted a bit of this picture which is a tip of the iceberg compared to the total and abject decay and shambles our health care infrastructure has become at a period of unprecedented boom! Can someone tell me how facilities built to accommodate patients 70 years ago can cope with the population explosion within the period? The average hospital OPD looks like a market Square. Can anyone tell me how two or one general practitioners can safely attend to all cases that come before him or her on a daily basis? Most of our poor folks have had to depend on private clinics that are poorly equipped, poorly trained with poorly paid staff and at worst on quacks. The stats on avoidable deaths are unprintable.

And back to Medical magicians,  it will interest you to know that to employ one Doctor costs the CRSG less than 100,000 monthly! That is to say every 1 million Naira  a month can give it us at least 11 doctors a month! Or  over 50 nurses!

But it is not fashionable nowadays to pay doctors and nurses. It is more fashionable to pay those millions in air fares and consultancies to import  half naked girls from all over Africa and beyond  to come and parade on TV for our amusement because it is called "Tourism"! I am aware that to organise one beauty Pageant costs the CRSG at least 300 million Naira for the local types and over 1 billion Naira for the "International " ones.

I have predicated my entire  proposal on "...doing the simple things we know best how to do". And nowhere else can this be more appalling than in the health sector comparism with the so called Tourism sector. The savings from our proclivity for amusement alone can give us a world class health care system that anyone will be proud of.

How can a society in the 21st century be so uncaring about its people's health and wellbeing in preference for the mundane? How can we prefer to be animals rather than human in the face of global advancement in care and wellbeing. How can our government operatives sleep well when her people are dying  everyday day not from  war but in her health contraptions?

I therefore propose in summary as follows:

1. A radical reform in our health sector that embraces total expansion and upgrade of our health care institutions.

2 A  deliberate overhaul of our health policies that will ensure adequate employment of qualified professionals in all departments of the health sector, and especially doctors and nurses.

3. A compulsory residency program for doctors in the public hospitals as a priority with adequate provision of housing and all welfare needs.

4 . The immediate reopening and reactivation of all training facilities for health care givers in CRS.

5. The implementation of all outstanding agreements with health care unions in the state to create a conducive environment for medical practice.

6. The rigorous regulation of medical practice in CRS and a conscious program to assist private practitioners upgrade facilities to serve our health care needs.

7. The immediate establishment of a full fledged teaching hospital at the Okuku Medical Sciences campus of the Cross River State University of calabar to serve the health care referral needs of this part of the state and country.

8. To declare a total state of emergency in the health sector in CRS until it is brought to 21st century standards in line with WHO recommendations for public hospitals anywhere in the world.

Ikem is the first governorship aspirant to have developed and publicized a development blueprint for Cross River State
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