In the post-independence Nigeria, one of the pollutant viruses that have dealt a deadly blow to the prosperity of the public service in the nation is the sacrifice of competence on the altar of clique, godfatherism, religious affiliations and personal relationships.
Institutions that are afflicted with such viruses end up bleeding from the effects of maladministration, mediocrity and distractions that make a whole mess of the development trajectory of such institutions.
At Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, this is the time to ensure that the tertiary health institution named after the Great Zik of Africa takes its sure footing as a hospital designed in its vision statement to become a centre of excellence in tertiary healthcare delivery.
As the erstwhile chief medical director (CMD) of the hospital, Prof Anthony Igwegbe, takes a bow, having served out his two tenures in office, it therefore becomes imperative that a man found worthy in character and competence takes charge of NAUTH. That man above all pretence and sentiments is Dr Joseph Odiri Ugboaja, the current CMAC of the hospital.
In Dr Ugboaja is an obstetrician and gynaecologist by training and administrator par excellence. Having been around for some time at NAUTH, Nnewi, his imprints in the institution since he joined the management team in 2014 as deputy chairman, Medical Advisory Committee, have been outstanding.
As the substantive chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC), NAUTH, he has brought lots of innovation and improvement in the hospital services. He is the brain behind the NAUTH Research Society, the Pain and Palliative Care Unit, Total Quality Management System, Clinicopathologic Conference Series and the NAUTH Cancer Society.
Dr Ugboaja’s other initiatives in NAUTH include the formation of the Quality Improvement Committee, Minimal Access Surgery Committee, Laboratory Quality Management System, the annual NAUTH Scientific Conference and Best Researchers Award.
Additionally, as a health care manager and administrator, Dr Ugboaja wants to prove to pundits that public health institutions in Nigeria, like NAUTH, are capable of comparing and competing with any other quality hospitals around the globe.
Dr Ugboaja has a practical blueprint that can ensure that in spite of all the factors militating against the performances of public health institutions in Nigeria, the system can still deliver quality services that can be reckoned with anywhere in the world. Specifically for NAUTH, his vision is to get the hospital rank among the top five hospitals in Nigeria through massive infrastructural acquisition, human capital development, collaborations as well as partnerships and innovations. Dr Ugboaja believes that with the combination of these factors, NAUTH will not only soar to higher heights but become a centre for medical tourism in Nigeria.
He values human capital as the most prized asset in any organization knowing fully that when assets and equipment are provided, but people are not properly trained or unwilling to do what they are meant to do, no progress can be achieved. He has therefore prioritized the training of the workforce that would help in achieving the vision in NAUTH. It is his desire to ensure that NAUTH staff members practise with the highest level of ethics in their attitude to patients.
As a realist, he also knows that NAUTH’s image is not the best at the moment, hence his burning desire to make the required and much needed positive difference. Dr Ugboaja knows that any vision that is not shared is a dead vision. Therefore, he has developed a strategy to get everybody to believe and align in this new vision.
Under his watch, NAUTH would attempt hospital accreditation based on hospital total quality management system criteria, thus making history as the first public hospital in Nigeria to attempt such. Dr Ugboaja values research and its value in improving quality of services. It would be recalled that when he came on board as the CMAC, he did two remarkable things that have helped in boosting research in NAUTH.
He founded the NAUTH Research Society to boost the capacity of the hospital to do quality and productive research, participate in collaborative researches and attract research grants. He also initiated the NAUTH Annual Scientific Conference (NAUTH became the first public hospital in Nigeria to organize this).
The annual NAUTH Scientific Conference was initiated to encourage scientific writings and presentations; give vent to the output of the Research Society and rekindle the interest of the staff members in research. Dr Ugboaja’s priority areas, as gathered from his notes, include the emergency service points, including the accident and emergency unit, children’s emergency unit and the labour ward. The intensive care unit, special care baby’s unit, isolation and treatment centre, as well as orthopaedics and trauma centre will all receive priority attention.
As Prof Igwegbe bows out, let there be a seamless handover to Dr Ugboaja to function in the acting capacity. The resort to dirty politics and unnecessary power play and tussle would be counterproductive. Inordinate ambition and quest for power by some contenders should not be allowed to derail these lofty ideals.
“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come,” says Victor Hugo
– Emeka Anthony, a public affairs analyst, writes from Awka, Anambra State
Disclaimer: This article is entirely the opinion of the writer and does not represent the views of The Whistler.