Raymond Ozoji, Awka
It was indeed an atmosphere of celebration and jubilation at Umuorom village Aguleri Anambra-East local government area of Anambra state as the state governor Chief Willie Obiano commissioned an ultra-modern hospital in the area thereby giving the people of Aguleri community a new lease of life. The occasion left indelible impressions in the minds of the old and young people who graced the grand opening of Immaculate Heart Multi-Specialist Hospital which marked the end of patronage to quack midwives as well as native doctors who have done more harm than good to the rural populace. The hospital which was originally a mere clinic and funded by the Immaculate Heart Sisters of the Onitsha Catholic Archidiocese now metamorphosed into a cutting-edge hospital thereby ushering in an era of unlimited and unhindered access to quality healthcare services for the people of Aguleri, the entire Anambra state and beyond.
Gabriel Nwakwudo Alor, aged 75, a native of Okpu Ifite-Aguleri said the hospital would enable them to live longer because they would no longer have to travel to Onitsha and other distant places to access medical care as they were old and senile and could not afford such exorbitant medical bills. He said the governor not only commissioned the hospital for use but had also begun to save lives in the area. Also Mrs.Theresa Nwaigbo of Umuorom village Aguleri, aged 60 could not subdue her joy over the birth of Immaculate Heart Multi-Specialist Hospital in their domain. She said that apart from the hospital, the governor has brought Aguleri community to limelight through his philanthropy and humanitarian services. Mrs. Nwaigbo therefore emphasized that the hospital is one out of the numerous people-oriented projects the governor instituted in the area.
Another indigene of the area Mrs.Georgina, 65, who hails from Umuokpoko in Enugwu-Otu Aguleri expressed profound gratitude to the governor for commissioning the hospital adding that the hospital would be of immense benefit to her because she always fell sick due to her old age. Meanwhile, Chief Mark Chukwudozie of Ezi-Agulu Aguleri, 85, noted that the hospital was the first of its kind in Aguleri and that they were happy about it. He said that the governor had increased their life-span by commissioning the hospital as well as subsidized it to enable them to foot the medical bills.
On the hand, Mr. James Ekwealor, aged 82, who hails from Ifite-Aguleri noted that they now have a good hospital at their doorsteps and therefore have no reasons whatsoever to travel far in search of medical care. Ekwealor said the governor did tremendously well by commissioning the hospital so they could access it to treat themselves of ailments especially as they were old and frail.
The President-General of Aguleri Town Union Chief Barr. Hipo Onwuegbuke described the hospital as a timely response to the medical and health needs of the people of Aguleri community and beyond. He said such intervention in his community was the climax as it was intended to save lives as well as provide quality healthcare services to the rural populace. According to him, “We have been traveling outside for medical treatment. We called it a clinic which is more or less inferior to a hospital. It is a mere consulting centre. So this time round, we can now rank with Onitsha waterside hospital. We now have the facility and the place has been upgraded to a specialist hospital.”
He maintained that it was a fact that pregnant women used to give birth to their babies at the shrine of native midwives stressing that one Eliza Ashia gifted with natural proclivities in delivering pregnant women of their babies at her shrine, administered native medicine on expectant mothers and they put to bed safe and sound. He said other women also exist in the area that applied orthodox method but they were not too qualified but emphasized that their services cannot be compared to a specialist cum conventional hospital like Immaculate Heart Multi-Specialist Hospital Aguleri where there are qualified medical personnel with professional prerequisites for certain areas of medical practice. The President-General further noted that “now that we have a full-fleged hospital, our people are happier and we are ready to exploit every opportunity on that.
“This hospital that has been upgraded, we used to call it maternity clinic. It has been existing even before the war. But because of the inadequacies, people consult those women that are gifted in the art of native midwifery. From 1970, people have been going to the clinic and at the same time patronising those women gifted in the art of native midwifery. But from 1980 and above, the awareness came up, two hospitals were built – Chinedu hospital and First Foundation hospital. Chinedu hospital was built in Aguleri and First Foundation hospital was built in Umuleri. But the emergence of Immaculate Heart Multi-Specialist Hospital Aguleri meant that henceforth the people will access medicare with ease and less stress.” Onwuegbuke further bared his mind on the new health facility in his domain saying that the governor has indeed given the people reason to live longer and better through access to subsidized quality healthcare services.
Meanwhile, Obinna Chris Emeneka the lawmaker representing Anambra-East state constituency where Immaculate Heart Multi-Specialist Hospital Aguleri is situated said the hospital met international requirements . Emeneka said he aligned himself with the position of Governor Willie Obiano that the hospital fulfilled medical best practices and that it would help to curtail medical tourism outside Anambra state. The state commissioner for health Dr.Vincent Okpala described the hospital as one of the best things that happened to the people of Aguleri community. Okpala recalled that the hospital was abandoned for donkey years but has also witnessed a transformational growth from a mere small clinic to a gigantic modern specialist hospital.
The commissioner further elucidated the fact that the hospital would serve four immediate local government areas of Ayamelum, Anambra-east, Anambra-west and Oyi respectively. He said they would benefit immensely from the care the hospital would provide stressing that the goal was to bring medical tourism to Anambra state even as he pointed out that the likes of Ekwulobia General Hospital in the South Senatorial Zone, Enugwu-Ukwu General Hospital in the Central Senatorial Zone and Onitsha General Hospital in the North Senatorial Zone were all currently receiving treatments and at various stages of completion.
The Chief Executive Officer of Immaculate Heart Multi-Specialist Hospital Rev. Father Chimaobi Okoye who disclosed that the hospital was the place of birth of Governor Willie Obiano when it was a maternity, said the clinic had been in existence since 1950 and that they were delighted that the governor has transformed the place of his birth to a world class hospital to ameliorate the state of health care delivery in the area. The governor, during the formal commissioning of the hospital, said his administration had restated its commitment to partner the mission as well as other key players in the health sector for effective and quality healthcare services in Anambra state.
The ground-breaking ceremony commenced with a Holy Mass officiated by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha Archdiocese Most Rev.Valerian Okoye together with the Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha Archdiocese Most Rev. Dennis Isizo alongside other Catholic priests while the likes of the traditional ruler of Aguleri community Igwe Michael Idigo, his Umueri counterpart Igwe Sir Ben Izuchukwu Emeka, the Chief of Staff Mr. Primus Odili, Special Adviser to Governor Willie Obiano on Political Matters Barr. Ifeatu Obi-Okoye and a host of other very distinguished personalities attended the grand opening of the Immaculate Heart Multi-Specialist Hospital Aguleri.