With the successful kidney transplant accomplished at the Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH), Oghara, on Tuesday, January 13, the stage is now set for the State to become Nigeria’s medical tourism destination.
The kidney transplant, the first of its kind in the country, followed the successful knee cap and hip replacement surgeries earlier undertaken in the hospital last year.
Congratulating Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, Governor of Delta State, over the feat, the State Commissioner for Information, Chike Ogeah, said the success of Tuesday’s surgery signals the advent of more complex operations to be undertaken at the hospital that will ultimately make DELSUTH a centre for medical excellence and tourism in Nigeria.
He said the pioneering surgeries at the hospital demonstrate Dr. Uduaghan’s visionary leadership and unique approach to healthcare in the country, noting that Delta remains the only state with a comprehensive healthcare programme.
Delta State is the only place where pregnant women enjoy comprehensive free healthcare coverage and free delivery, including free caesarean section. In addition to that, every new born baby enjoys free medical care until five years of age. This is unprecedented and largely explains why Delta State by far has the lowest maternal death rate”, Ogeah said in Asaba.
When the Uduaghan administration came into office in 2007, the death rate per 1,000 births was over 500. However, by 2013, the figure had dropped to about 250 deaths per 1,000 births, giving Delta State by far the best record in the country.
“Uduaghan has set the pace whereby wealthy Nigerians will no longer have cause to travel abroad for even complex medical situations. Rather, we are the point where people from other countries will be coming to Delta State in search of specialist medical care. That is what medical tourism is all about and DELSUTH is leading the way”, Ogeah said.
The commissioner said the DELSUTH project involves not just the acquisition and installation of world class medical facilities but in the development of well trained manpower to undertaken surgeries hitherto obtainable only in developed countries.
Uduaghan, himself an accomplished medical doctor who was part of the team that successful undertook the kidney transplant, had facilitated a five-year partnership between DELSUTH and UT South-Western Medical Centre, Dallas, the United States of America to build infrastructure and human capacity.
Two years ago, the Delta State Government started subsidizing dialysis of kidney patients in DELSUTH and progressively brought the cost down from N20,000 to N5,000 applicable only to patients of Delta State origin.