The idea of a world-class medical centre that was conceptualised after tedious negotiation process in far away United States, the United Kingdom and many other parts of the world was soon developed into a model.
Now that the journey of putting the model into pragmatic framework has begun in Dawakin Kudu Local Government of Kano State, the quarantine flag – which symbolises a disease-free environment – will soon stand at full mast in Kano when the project is completed.
The 200-bed centre, which would be located on the outskirt of the city, will replace the old Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), which is – against the modern practice – located within the town. The present hospital that treats infectious disease cases is located within the city and that poses danger of disease spread.
As some people may likely suppose, this is not a fruit of the famous Public Private Partnership (PPP) cliché, nor the nectar of omnipotent monthly grants each component of the federating unit is receiving. Rather, the N3.8 billion project came into fruition through concerted effort of Kano State governor Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, who travelled around many parts of the world in order to negotiate the compensation.
The $75 million negotiation deal, which was brokered by no less an individual than the first-ever Sardaunan Kano, is perhaps the largest compensation deal sealed since Nigeria ’s independence. I have a strong conviction that editors of the prestigious Negotiation Journal, which is published at the equally prestigious Harvard Law School , might be delightful to publish how Shekarau negotiated the release of $75 million.
It is instructive to note that striking this deal aptly describes Malam’s pacifist posture as a man who is guided by morals. His systematic knockout of legal fireworks that tarried at local and international courts for over a decade spoke volume of his romance with peace.
The brightest part of the negotiation between Kano State government and Pfizer, the world’s largest research-based biopharmaceutical company that conducted a clinical trial of meningitis drug in Kano in 1996, is this medical centre. All other things appear to be ephemeral.
This should give cause for celebration to every right-thinking Kano indigene because of the purposes the centre will serve. The health centre is a quantum leap toward solving the problem of perennial disease outbreak in the state. It is also a long stride toward solving the conundrum of diagnosis which puzzles the underdeveloped worlds.
Shekarau’s commitment to healthcare in Kano State is sincere given the number of hospitals built and the drugs and equipment supplied during his administration. Owing to his commitment to healthcare in Kano State , the state recorded a year without a single case of polio.
Before the coming of Shekarau administration, it was on record that a particular local government in the state, Kumbotso Local Government Area, recorded the highest number of polio cases in the whole WORLD! But today such is not the case as the state government’s efforts seem to delete the horrible indices.
Not only this project shows Malam’s commitment to healthcare development but other projects aimed at either improving the staff strength or the existing infrastructure of the sector. Consistent with his government’s commitment to improve human capacity and infrastructure in its health institutions, Shekarau recruited 525 medical personnel. In sphere of reducing maternal morbidity and mortality, millions of women are currently benefiting from his free maternal healthcare program.
In a similar vein, more than 90,000 accident and emergency victims have also benefited from his free healthcare services. Shekarau administration also collaborated with development partners who assessed the state’s health facilities and commitment to healthcare delivery and supported its Drug Revolving Fund Program, in which drugs and consumables worth over N600 million were distributed in 2009. It is gladdening to note that in this year’s budget, about N9 billion was set aside for the health sector.
As a man for whom the contractual jargon of ‘kickback’ sounds all Greek, we have no basis to think that the governor negotiated the Pfizer deal for his personal benefits. At the foundation laying ceremony of the health centre, Shekarau said his government did not intend to put the money into government coffers but rather build a large health centre that would be beneficial to the people of Kano State .
Headed by a respected retired diplomat and erudite scholar, Professor Shehu Galadanci, the fund intends to bring a world-class diagnostic centre, an effective disease control centre, reputable public health laboratory, result-oriented microbiological reference laboratory and good staff housing unit.
When the healthcare project comes on stream, its referral centre will not only be beneficial but reverential – as it will be the first of its kind in Africa . Its diagnostic centre will not only ease the diabolic effect of diabetes but conquer cases of cancer at its early stage of development. The disease control centre’s periscopic power will foresee an impending outbreak and stop it from spreading across the state. Such is the logic of building the large hospital outside the ancient city. The medical centre would also have an in-patient facility for the treatment of severe life-threatening infections.
Another area which some cynics may raise eyebrows is the payment of $10 million litigation fee. Justifying the logic for negotiating out the sum of $10 million for the lawyers, Governor Shekarau noted that the lawyers had argued in a plausible manner for the state government.
Governor Shekarau said the Pfizer case was left to linger in court by successive administrations for about 10 years before his administration negotiated for an out-of-court settlement in order for the victims of the clinical test and Kano people to benefit from it.
Shekarau said he had travelled to the United Kingdom , the United States and other parts of the world in order to finalise the negotiation process, which culminated in getting $75 million dollars as compensation.
Governor Shekarau noted that the health centre becomes imperative considering importance of diagnosis in medical service. “Those who seek overseas medical services will tell you that there is nothing spectacular in seeking medical services abroad but the diagnosis. When an ailment is identified, the cure becomes very easy,” explained the governor.
While counselling the victims to have faith in the fact that a human life could never be compensated with anything, Governor Shekarau hoped that the Trovan clinical test would be the last to wreak havoc on the lives of Kano people.
Lauding the governor for his effort, Professor Galadanci revealed that the centre would be first of its kind in not only Nigeria but the West African sub region. “This medical centre will have state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment for the diagnosis and treatment of many conditions, including cancers and serious life-threatening infectious diseases that are only treated in Europe and America. We must thank Governor Shekarau for his effort in the negotiation process,” he said.
But beneath the euphoria that greeted the foundation laying ceremony, our fear for the chief negotiator is that succeeding administration may not likely pay attention to the maintenance and regular update of the hospital equipment.
-Ahmad Idris is with No 227 Tukuntawa, Kano City