Ahead of the closure of the Abuja International Airport from Wednesday, Nigeria’s government has selected five hospitals to treat serious accident victims and provide other emergency healthcare services.
Three of the hospitals are in Kaduna State while the other two are in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Apart from the five hospitals that would handle severe cases on referrals, First Aid Centres and Primary Health Care Centres along the Abuja-Kaduna highway are also being upgraded to take care of minor injuries.
The Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire, confirmed this development on Thursday during a facility tour of the referral hospitals.
The hospitals are the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base Hospital, 44 Army Brigade Hospital, and St. Geralds Catholic Hospital located in Kaduna metropolis, as well as the National Hospital, Abuja and the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada.
According to a statement from his office on Monday, Mr. Enahire explained that he embarked on the inspection tour of the hospitals to ascertain their state of readiness to handle emergencies.
The Federal Government on Monday formally announced the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja from Wednesday, March 8 to pave way for the maintenance of the airport’s runway. Operations of the airport will be transferred to the Kaduna airport during the closure.
At the NAF Base Hospital, Gideon Bako, an Air Force Group Captain who is the director in charge of the hospital, conducted the minister round the facility and assured that it has assembled a team capable of handling emergency situations.
“We have the equipment, we have the manpower and we are equal to the task to respond to emergencies’’, Mr. Bako said
Speaking on the maintenance of the Abuja-Kaduna highway corridor and the upgrade of health centres along the highway, Mr. Ehanire said that it had been envisaged that the transfer of flghts from Abuja to Kaduna would result in a monumental increase in vehicular and human movements, which always come with other consequences.
He however called on the Kaduna State Government to expedite action on the refurbishment of Doka General Hospital situated along the Abuja-Kaduna highway to provide emergency care.
He assured the public that government was on top of the situation, adding that the Ministry of Health was collaborating with the Federal Road Safety Commission, Federal Fire Service, Nigerian Police, NEMA, Ministry of Defence, Aviation Ministry, Kaduna and Niger State Governments to drive the process.
“This is a pilot project to provide emergency response on our highways and would be sustained. We would replicate this service along other highway corridors to give fast and competent response to emergencies.
“Government is determined and resolute to ensure commuters’ safety. There is no room for complacency, we don’t want to be caught off guard,” the minister said.
Responding, the Chief of Staff of Government House, Kaduna, Muhammad Saidu, assured that the state government would support the federal government’s efforts to drive the process to fruition.
The Abuja International Airport will be closed down for six weeks.