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President’s medical trips: Aisha Buhari laments fate of “Common Man”

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The Wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha, on Monday decried the poor state of healthcare delivery in Nigeria and what it portends for Nigerians.

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Recalling the recent trips made by the President to London for medical attention, Mrs Buhari wondered what would happen to Nigerians who could not afford to travel abroad for treatment and are forced to turn to poorly equipped hospitals.

If somebody like Mr President can spend several months outside Nigeria, then you wonder what will happen to a common man on the street in Nigeria,” she said at the opening of a two-day Stakeholders meeting on RMNCAH+N –Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent Health and Nutrition in Abuja.

The meeting was organised by her pet project, Future Assured which has all state governors’ wives, development partners, primary healthcare coordinators and other state holders in attendance.

Mrs Buhari illustrated her concern with her experience after a recent visit to the State House Medical Centre. She had gone there for treatment, after rejecting advise to travel abroad for better care.

She said,

“Few weeks ago I was sick as well, they advised me to take the first flight out to London (but) I refused to go. I said I must be treated in Nigeria because there is a budget for an assigned clinic to take care of us.”

Unfortunately, she discovered that despite the huge budgetary allocation to the centre, it wasn’t properly equipped.

Mrs Buhari, therefore, called for the probe of the budget for the medical centre.

“If the budget is N100 million, we need to know how the budget is spent. Along the line I insisted they call Aso Clinic to find out if the X-ray machine is working, they said it is not working. They didn’t know I am the one that was supposed to be in that hospital at that very time,” she said.

“I had to go to a hospital that was established by foreigners in and out 100 percent. What does that mean?”

She also faulted ongoing construction at the medical centre, suggesting it was misplaced priority.

This much she told the Chief Medical Director of the State House Medical Centre, Dr Hussain Munir, who was also at the event.

“I’m sure Dr Munir will not like me saying this but I have to say it out,” she said.

“As the Chief Medical Director, there are a lot of constructions going on in this hospital but there is no single syringe there what does that mean? Who will use the building? We have to be good in reasoning. You are building new buildings and there is no equipment, no consumables in the hospital and the construction is still going on.”

To turn the situation around and improve healthcare delivery in the country, she called for urgent action.

“I think is high time for us to do the right thing. If something like this can happen to me no need for me to ask the governors wives what is happening in their states. This is Abuja and this is the highest seat of government, and this is the Presidential Villa,” she said.

For her, the problem is not one of poor policy, but one of ineffective policy implementation and the mindset of those responsible for providing health facilities.

“One of the speakers (at the event) has already said we have very good policies in Nigeria, in fact, we have the best policies in Africa. Yes of course we have but the implementation has been the problem,” she said.

“So, we need to change our minds set and do the right thing.”

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