State House clinic to be commercialised ―Perm Sec

Jalal-ArabiAFTER reported criticism of the running of State House Medical Centre (SHMC) by Zahra, President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter, the State House Permanent Secretary, Jalal Arabi, has moved to reposition the medical facility, announcing that it services are to be commercialised to augment government allocation.

The clinic currently offers free medical services to patients which Arabi says is no longer sustainable. 

Zahra had reportedly lashed out on her Instagram account at the prevailing situation in the clinic despite huge amounts of money provided for it. 

She had been quoted as saying on the post: “More than N3billion budgeted for the State House clinic and workers there don’t have the equipment to work with? Why?

“Where is the money going to? Medication only stocked once since the beginning of the year? Why? State House Permanent Secretary please answer.

“Why isn’t there simple Paracetamol, gloves, syringes… Why do patients/staff have to buy what they need in the state house clinic?”

But in an apparent response through a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday signed by Attah Esa, State House Deputy Director of Information, the Permanent Secretary also denied that funds allocated to the clinic were being diverted. 

The statement said the SHMC will be repositioned to offer qualitative and efficient services. 

According to the statement, “Reacting to a recent media report on the state of the Medical Centre, the Permanent Secretary said the management will among other things seek the commercialisation of the Centre to boost its revenue and augment the appropriation it receives from the government in the quest for a better qualitative service.”

The state added: “The Centre is the only health centre in Abuja where patients are not required to pay any dime before consultation. 

“In other government hospitals in Abuja, patients are required to pay for consultation, treatment, laboratory tests and others but that has not been the case with the State House Medical Centre. 

“The Centre offers free services, nobody pays a kobo for hospital card, consultations or prescriptions and this has taken a toll on the subvention the Centre receives from the government. 

“We have some of the best equipment in the country. For instance, to maintain the MRI and other scan machines, we spend close to N2 million monthly. Yet we do not charge a dime for those who require MRI scans in the clinic.”

Arabi said the proposed reforms will ensure that those eligible to use the Centre are NHIS complaint with their Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) or primary health provider domiciled in the clinic. 

He added: “We have already created a NHIS desk at the clinic where patients will be required to authentic their profile. If their HMOs are registered in other hospitals they will be required to transfer to the Centre. 

“This is another way through which we can boost revenue generation at the hospital and this has started yielding results because the stark reality is there is no free lunch anywhere,” he said.  

In dismissing the allegations of misappropriation and withholding of funds meant for medical supplies in the centre, the Permanent Secretary declared:‘‘I know people will insinuate and give all sorts of reasons because they don’t ask but it will be foolhardy and madness for anybody in his senses to defraud a medical centre of a kobo and toying with people’s lives. 

“No sane person will do that, so the truth of the matter is the hospital is being run on  subvention and appropriation; if it comes we pile the drugs; but the truth is the drugs are always overwhelmed by the number of people who use the Centre, because it is not controlled.”

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