Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Doctor Salisu's Hospital
In Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, having a doctor or any kind of health care nearby is still very much a luxury. But that's changing in the northern part of the country.
Recently, I visited a hospital in Katsina State near the border of the Niger Republic. I spoke with Dr. Salisu Barau Banye, who was born and raised in Katsina and has practiced medicine in the area for more than 25 years. When many of his generation were leaving Nigeria for opportunities abroad, Dr. Salisu chose to stay and serve his community.
Dr. Salisu works at Katsina General Hospital, which is considered a shining star for health care in northern Nigeria. People travel there from neighboring Nigerian states and even the Niger Republic. The tiny hospital treats 1,500 people a day and is open nearly around the clock. Just eight years ago, the hospital did not have a clean water supply, consistent electric power or adequate staff. But the government of Katsina State has invested millions of dollars into health care, and Dr. Salisu's patients are beginning to thrive. Like many places in Africa, the plague of poverty is the doctor's biggest foe. Infections, malaria, food-borne illnesses and malnutrition are some of the major maladies in Katsina.
Dr. Salisu and his colleagues say they are continuing to provide the three A's of health care: availability, accessibility and affordability. Thanks to funding from the Katsina State Government the hospital provides:
Free prenatal care and delivery
Free kidney dialysis
Free treatment of malaria
Free emergency treatment of accident victims
Discounted prescription medicines
New equipment, facilities, ambulances, better-trained doctors, nurses and midwives, improved immunizations and even a state-of-the-art intensive care unit have created an oasis of high-quality health care in a very rural area.
It's now Dr. Salisu's goal to bring more primary-care facilities to villages so people will not have to travel as far to be treated for more common illnesses. Easy access to health care is improving in this part of the world. Can you get medical care when you need it where you live?
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