Senator T A Orji, Covid 19 and Super Health Initiatives.
Herophilus, a Greek philosopher and pioneer anatomist once observed, ‘When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless and intelligence cannot be applied.’
When Senator T A Orji was elected the governor of Abia State in 2007, he had some basic aspirations in mind based on the manifesto he presented during the hot electioneering campaigns. But he got more than he intended as there were multiple challenges emanating from over 50 lawsuits by the opposition, challenging his victory at the polls. To the surprise of many skeptics and critics, this did not sway him into negligence or dishing out excuses as many would have done, especially with the opposition warning contractors that any contract undertaken with the Orji’s government will be revoked when they take over. They were superfluously confident that the court will overturn his victory.
Back in his mind, education, health, agriculture, youth development, empowerment and security were nonnegotiable pillars of focus no matter how the opposition raged and howled. These did not take time to manifest as events unfolded with Ochendo fully in charge.
Primary Health Centers, known in in health parlance as PHCs quadrupled and grew like mushrooms in all the wards. Moribund hospitals were updated and Abia Specialist Hospital and Diagnostic Center berthed.
Not wanting to be delayed by pangs of starting buildings from the scratch, he acquired an existing one, The Aloma Clinic, and inherited Amachara Gen Hospital, previously owned by the Methodist Church of Nigeria as a mission hospital. This hospital that reigned in the colonial and post-colonial era lost its glory and gasped for breath, but the new helmsman breathed life into it and made it a veritable appendage of the specialist hospital with dialysis machines, malaria research center and other health aspects. Respiratory diseases which previously were enigmas had a good challenge in the newly installed Chest Center. The School of Nursing at Amachara de-accredited by relevant authorities was midwifed back to life.
It is on record that Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu former Minister of Health, visited Abia more than twice cutting tapes of new buildings and innovative health installations by Ochendo
As hinted earlier, the former Aloma Clinic belonging to Dr Anagha Ezeikpe, one of the surviving founding fathers was legally acquired by the state government and was ingeniously upgraded to be the main hob of the specialist centers spawning ultra-modern X-rays, ultra sound and other scanning and dialysis machines. At the onset, it went into partnership with Mecure, an Indian health outfit with advanced medical machines and technology. All these made Abia a medical Mecca of sorts as cases were referred from the neighboring states of Akwa Ibom, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu and others.
In a stunning revelation, a member of NANA, North American Nurses and Midwives who paid a courtesy call on the governor in 2014, relayed how her mother was treated via phone from USA based on the laboratory data from the Abia Specialist Hospital which she avowed saved her some money in transport and boarding.
Instructively, all these were incubated and shaped by Ochendo’s visit to Jon Hopkins Hospital USA which provided a one-stop service to Americans and Ochendo wanted this replicated in Abia. His personal physician, Dr A U Mbanaso gave the needed professional push.
More have been written about these health sector revolutions in the past and I am impressed that the present government of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has not relented in multiple upgrades in all sectors.
Now in the senate, Senator Orji did not relent in pursuing his ideals to sooth the melancholies of his constituents and all citizens alike as health, education, agriculture and security of lives and properties, youth empowerment were prime in his bills and motions.
Without more emphasis, Senator Orji continued the same streak of healthy quests among his other bills and motions. Fortuitously, His Bill, SB 256, A bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the National Centre for Disease Control Prevention went through.
This bill concluded the rigorous first, second and third readings including a public hearing and was passed by the senate and awaited presidential assent until Nov, 2018 when the president appended his much sought signature.
It is of worthy note that the National Center for Disease Control is today up to its billings as it is the centerpiece of the COVID 19 ravages. It has been his long held view that a sick person cannot enjoy the dividends of democracy therefore his ceaseless quests in the health sector.
In his acceptance speech after reelection in 2019, he affirmed as thus: TO EXPAND MY EYE HOSPITAL TO CATER FOR PATIENTS WITH HYPERTENSION AND HIV AIDS among other things. The eye hospital referred above was officially inaugurated in Oct 17, 2017. It is located at no 30 Ohafia Street, Umuahia and has carried out numerous surgeries with the latest equipment, Laser inclusive. It has gone through numerous stages since 2018, a year after inception with 604 subsidized Cataract surgeries, 567 in 2019 and over 100 in 2020.
The Medical officer in charge Dr Anya, was sponsored to a specialist course abroad that qualified him to install hi-tech equipment and now runs the Senator T A Orji Eye Surgery Institute that has today graduated 5 students in association with schools already accredited. In the same vein, he realized that a large percentage of eye problems emanate from Cataract and Glaucoma, the eye thief that takes people unawares, therefore he is presently sponsoring a thirty minute radio programme on public awareness on eye problems every Saturday at Flo FM. in Abia.
Unknown to many his constituency projects for 2020 budget, ZIP p. 20, captured two health projects. The construction of a multi purpose hall at FMC Umuahia and screening and awareness training in diabetes and blood pressure management in three LGAs. The remaining LGAs in the Abia Central will be accommodated in the coming budgets. Most of the recipients will be people with non-communicable diseases who will be equipped with monitoring instruments and all.
The annual Senator Orji undergraduate scholarship which takes a total of 60 every year has serious considerations for medical students. With all these articulated and more, the people of Abia Central can attest to the efforts of their Senator to provide the needed palliatives even beyond Abia.