The Permanent Secretary, State House, Jalal Arabi, has responded to last week’s criticisms from daughter of the president, Zahra Buhari, over the state of the facilities at the State House Medical Centre (SHMC). He said the allocation the clinic receives is not enough because all of its services are offered free of charge to patients.
‘‘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,” Arabi said in a statement on Wednesday. ‘‘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.”
Madness to defraud a medical centre: Without directly mentioning the first daughter’s name, Arabi said he expects people to “insinuate and give all sorts of reasons because they don’t ask.” He however claimed that “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.”
Arabi can call it insane but the fact is Nigerian leaders have been known to defraud any and everyone from the sick to the old and retired. Nothing new in that at all.
Zahra’s attack: Last week, Zahra Buhari took to her Instagram page to complain about the state of the facilities in the health centre and to demand for answers from Arabi. Some of her posts which were subsequently deleted include:
- “Why isn’t there simple paracetamol, gloves, syringes why do the patients/staff have to buy what they need in state house clinic? #statehousepermsecplsanswer”
- “More than N3 billion budgeted for state house clinic and the workers there don’t have equipment to work with? Why? #statehousepermsecplsanswer”
- “Where is the money going to? Medication only stock once since the beginning of the year? Why?”
Arabi’s solution: The permanent secretary said in his statement that the management of the clinic are working to reposition the centre. Consequently, “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.”
Quote: ‘‘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,’’ the Permanent Secretary said. “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.”