By Ismaila Chafe
Mr Jalal Arabi, the Permanent Secretary, State House, says the State House Medical Centre (SHMC), which currently offers free medical services to patients will be re-positioned to offer qualitative and efficient services.
Arabi disclosed this in a statement by Mr Attah Esa, the Deputy Director, Information in the State House, Abuja on Wednesday.
The Permanent Secretary was reacting to a recent media report on the state of the Medical Centre.
It will be recalled that the Daily Trust newspaper on Tuesday reported that patients at the State House Medical Centre were groaning over lack of drugs and equipment at the facility.
The clinic is meant to serve Nigeria’s president, vice president and their families as well as employees of the presidency and other privileged individuals.
However, the Permanent Secretary said that the management would among other things seek the commercialisation of the centre to boost its revenue base.
According to Arabi, the centre when commercial will also augment the appropriation it receives from the government in the quest for a better qualitative service.
“The centre is the only health centre in Abuja where patients are not required to pay a 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,’’ he said.
Arabi said that the proposed reforms would ensure that those eligible to use the Centre were NHIS complaint with their Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) or primary health provider domiciled in the clinic.
He said that already NHIS desk had been created at the clinic where patients would 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.
The permanent secretary also dismissed allegations of misappropriation and withholding of funds meant for medical supplies in the centre.
‘‘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,’’ he said.(NAN)