The much talked-about “world-class” Akwa Ibom specialist hospital has finally begun operations, six months after it was hurriedly commissioned by former Governor Godswill Akpabio who left office May 29.
The hospital, initially known as the Akwa Ibom 20th Anniversary Hospital, is now officially called Ibom Specialist Hospital.
The hospital became a subject of controversy in September after Mr. Akpabio, now senate minority leader, travelled to the United Kingdom for medical attention after a car accident, abandoning the multibillion naira facility his administration promoted as being of world class standard.
Mr. Akpabio later said the hospital’s takeoff was delayed because foreign doctors billed to work there had not been cleared by the Nigerian Immigration Service to travel to the country.
He said the hospital would start off with 150 expatriates at once.
Some of the doctors are now in the state, and have been deployed to test run equipment at the facility.
About 25 foreign doctors have so far started work at the hospital while about 125 others were still being expected in the country, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
It was unclear how many Nigerian doctors would be employed at the new hospital.
On Wednesday, doctors, mostly Indians, were busy carrying out medical examinations on the people who visited the hospital for treatment.
An Indian cardiologist carried out blood pressure test and cardiac echo on a PREMIUM TIMES reporter who was at the hospital.
“It’s a standard hospital that could be compared to any hospital anywhere in the world,” the cardiologist said.
For now, medical examination is free at the Ibom Specialist Hospital.
But PREMIUM TIMES however gathered that the hospital was yet to dispense drugs because “the pharmacy department (of the hospital) was not in proper shape”.
It is believed that the hospital may not start full services until January next year, because of the time needed to train support staff who will handle technical infrastructure of the hospital.
Also, construction workers were seen carrying out concrete works around the hospital on Wednesday.
The Commissioner for Health, Akwa Ibom State, Dominic Ukpong, refused to comment on the issue when PREMIUM TIMES contacted him on telephone.
While unveiling the hospital in May, Mr. Akpabio had said the hospital was of “world-class” standard, and higher in status than a teaching hospital in Nigeria.
“Sometimes, people die in the air while being transported abroad for treatment. We wanted to shorten travel time for patients going abroad and at the same time get revenue for the state from health tourism,” Mr. Akpabio had said.