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Oni Memorial Children’s Hospital: Once upon a paediatric delight

When Oni and Sons handed over his estate to government, his vision was a state-of-the-art hospital that will do justice to his memory as a philanthropist, but the situation of the memorial hospital today seems to be out of his vision and expectations. YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE, after a visit to the facility, reports her findings.

The brown blocked building sits in fade glory in a high brow area of Ibadan, giving a dignified appearance of a past that was filled with glamour and beauty. A walk round the compound further reiterates what one sees from the outside; that the building was one built in affluence and wealth. And in times past, it had hosted the elites as well as the crème de la crème of the society.

This is the first compound on Oni and Sons way, off Basorun M.K.O Abiola, Ring road and it is the location of the Oni and Sons Children’s hospital, one of the leading pediatric clinics owned by the Oyo state government which at present seems to be on a downward trend like other government facilities

The building was donated to the Oyo/Western state government to serve as a pediatric hospital by Chief Theophilus Adediran Oni popularly called Oni and Sons or Oni o suwon, a building and construction giant.

Oni and sons was born in Oke mesi town, Ekiti state in 1913 and he died in February 1975. His company was the first indigenous construction company in Nigeria and he was known for his philanthropic activities, the greatest of which is the donation of his sprawling family estate built on 15 acres of land to government.

The 65-room building known then as Goodwill House was outfitted with modern conveniences; outside garage, staff apartment, horse stable, Olympic size swimming pool and various state of the art facilities, was given to the government free and it is what is now known as T. A. Oni memorial children hospital popularly called Oni memorial.

But the beauty and the glamour of the goodwill house is now a thing of the past; faded paints, grown bushes and poor environment. The building is a mere shadow of its self and couldn’t even keep up with the façade of the beautiful layout of a well designed estate.

He Goodwill House now lives on past glory and many that knew it during its reign as one of the most beautiful houses in Ibadan cannot reconcile what it is now to the look hey expected it to have as they believe it is too unkempt and an insult to the memory of the philanthropist.

According to an Octogenarian, it is a sad development. “When that house was handed over to the government, it was in good shape; very beautiful with landscaped lawns. In fact, many people started going to the clinic just to have an experience of being treated in such a beautiful environment. The situation now is very terrible and it is so shameful that the building which should be a memorial to a good man is now rotting into such an unbecoming environment,” Pa. Pade Ojo old Nigerian Tribune.

Seni Alao, who lives near the hospital, stated that it is not surprising that such is happening. “I am not surprised at all, I have lived around here for about ten years and I have watched it degenerate daily as there is no obvious sign of maintenance. This hospital is not alone with this rot, it is merely afflicted with the same malaise that seems to afflict almost every government owned structure across the country; lack of maintenance culture and dearth of facilities,” Alao said.

And the facilities are now below average, said Babatunde Araoye, whose toddler just got discharged from the hospital after being hospitalized for two weeks. He told Nigerian Tribune that the experience was not palatable and very unpleasant as the facilities available were not up to average.

oni-memorial-clinic-hospital2“I know that people complain a lot about the situation of things in public hospitals but I haven’t had a firsthand experience because we have a family doctor in a private hospital. But because my child got sick in the night and our doctor was out of town, we came to Oni and son with the hope that the situation will be better because of its reputation as one of the best pediatric hospital but reverse is the case.

“Facilities here are almost on ground level, it is zero in rating or almost zero. From the entrance to the wards and all facilities, it is not encouraging at all and is not in the position to serve both the staff and the patients effectively.

“The two major wards; prep and ward one (upstairs) use one major toilet which is downstairs and the only toilet upstairs is reserved for the nursing staff. The prep ward reserved for day old babies has two adjoining wars and only one of this is working and serves as the waiting room for mothers and relatives of in-patients while the second one is out of use,” he said.

Nigerian Tribune learnt that bed space is also a continuous challenge in the hospital as the number of available bed space continues to reduce daily without obvious signs of any ongoing effort to repair or replace damaged ones.

“Aside from the almost free financial aspect that can be pointed as the only redeeming feature, every other aspect hinges on the need for urgent attention from government and even other well meaning agencies and individuals.

“From reduced bed space to irregular power supply and with one borehole facility serving the whole compound, in-patients or their relatives have to transverse the old step that leads up from the entrance of the hospital to the ground floor to fetch water to use in every part of the hospital

The swimming pool is now home to pests and rodents that may even be a threat to the workers and the patients on admission whose immunity may already be low due to diseases,” Araoye stated.

He added that the numerous calls by some for urgent attention to be given to the situation of things in the hospital are indeed necessary and not an exaggeration.

Over the years, there had been various complaints about the situation of facilities and equipment in virtually all major government hospitals, Oni memorial inclusive and this had been a major point of concern for various stakeholders in the health care sector.

And the situation in Oyo State according to many is very grave as most equipment are said to be obsolete, outdated with many in need of repairs and outright replacement. Many have lost faith in the services of public health institutions, paving way for even mushroom private hospitals to thrive.

“I can never take my child to public hospitals because it is like an invitation to trouble or what you can call a suicide mission as many lack the basic resources to provide services and even the staff are usually undisciplined and nonchalant about their work; giving substandard care in an environment devoid of basic necessities like water, power supply, laboratory equipment for tests, basic drugs and emergency provision materials,” Fafowora Odunayo said.

Many have called on the government to pay attention to the numerous complaints about public health institutions in the state especially the Oni memorial which is the only hospital that the government has that specializes in pediatric care and also to encourage people with like minds like the late Oni and sons to hand over their properties to government for public use.

“I hope the government does something fast because for me, I don’t think I can give a property to government seeing that they didn’t maintain the one handed over to them. It is very discouraging,” Fafowora concluded.