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Who Will Save Jalingo Specialist Hospital?

By Kefas Sule


The Taraba State Government owned, 255-bed Jalingo Specialist Hospital is one of the legacy projects conceived and executed by the former Jolly Nyame administration. 


The hospital facility, in terms of design and quality of construction, was adjudged to be one of the best in the northeastern part of the country and was therefore expected to deliver very high quality tertiary medical care and training opportunities for Tarabans and the region.


This, then, informed the zeal of the succeeding Danbaba Suntai administration to equip it with state of the art equipment and hiring some of the best hands, including foreign doctors and technicians to man the facility. 


At the take off of the hospital, it lived up to its billing and Tarabans could heave sighs of relief as the need of having to travel to distant places like Maiduguri, Jos or Ibadan for specialist medical attention were easily addressed right here in Jalingo. 

 

Alas, as it is with most things that have become synonymous with Taraba, especially in the last 8 years, the hospital began a slow, but steady decline into irrelevance and dysfunction. 


The hope that the Jalingo Specialist Hospital once represented has not only dimmed, it is now on the verge of absolute obliteration.

 

About two months ago, the dialysis section of the hospital had to be shut down. Much needed funds for the maintenance of the equipment in the unit have not been forthcoming and after managing the situation for a while, the inevitable had to happen. What was needed to have kept the machines working there is only about N3m, but the money could not be found in all of Taraba State Government accounts. 


This is a hospital that was providing the most reliable dialysis service and charging only N60k for 5 sessions, the cheapest charge you can get around here, before it was forced to shut down. 

 

The problems and decay confronting the Jalingo Specialist Hospital are multifaceted and humongous in nature. You can best appreciate how bad the situation is if you pay a visit to the place. The rot and dysfunction is all over the place.


It is being made worse everyday by the crippling effect of non release of running costs to the hospital for 3 years now. No money has been released for major repairs or renovations since then too.


I understand they have been managing the situation there with revolving funds from 4 departments in the hospital, but as the problems continue to metastasize, what is available is like a drop of water in a desert.

 

Staff morale at the hospital has ebbed. A high number of them have already left for better opportunities. One of the few staff remaining there described what happened there as "an exodus" of qualified and experienced staff. 


As the staff flee, patients are also giving the place a wide berth. It is becoming deserted, and if there is no immediate intervention, it would finally end up as a ghost hospital. I just pray the incoming government will rewrite this story.



Kefas Sule is a Jalingo based public affairs analyst. 


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