By Tayo Ogunbiyi

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, recently called on stakeholders to fashion out  means to re-invent higher education in the country in order to tackle its development challenges. To basically drive the message home, the Lagos State government is quietly but progressively working hard to improve the quality of education in the state. With particular reference to the Lagos State University, LASU, Ojo, Lagos, a massive infrastructure renewal project is currently on course. Presently, the Students Arcade, Senate Building, Central Library, School of Transportation, Faculty of Law Auditorium, School of Management Sciences,  LASU International School, among others are at various stages of completion. Aside infrastructure development, the state government remains relentless in its drive to improve academic standard in the  school. This is currently paying off as  85% of courses at the institution have been accredited by the National Universities Commission, NUC. In this light, the LASU School of Transportation, first of its kind in Nigeria, which is a response to contemporary necessity, has been  fully accredited by the NUC.

One core area where LASU is currently excelling is medical provision and education. The need for a tertiary health care facility required for the training of doctors and other health care professionals as well as to provide high quality clinical services led to the upgrade of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja, from a general hospital to a modern, well equipped centre of excellence. In spite of being a relatively young teaching hospital, LASUTH has become one of the leading teaching hospitals in West Africa in terms of the quality of service rendered by its highly skilled professionals armed with state-of-the-art equipment.

The transformation of LASUTH into a world class hospital has continued through the implementation of modern management systems which has significantly reduced patient waiting time for consultation and collection of prescribed drugs and laboratory tests. In conjunction with the State Ministry of Health, LASUTH has been involved in several grassroots development projects including Operation smile (for correction of cleft lip and palate), Limb Deformity Correction (for correction of bow and K legs), Cataract Surgery missions, Open Heart Surgery, hypertension and diabetes Mellitus awareness programmes. In-vitro fertilization will be starting in a few months.

LASUTH’s children’s wing has over 30 resident doctors, medical officers and nurses offering first class medical treatment to children. This is in addition to having consultants with different specialisations. The ultimate plan is to offer concentrated medical attention that is children-friendly. The hospital has acquired the echo-cardiograph, a hi-tech machine for checking the heartbeats of children and pregnant women. The device has become a key component in the management of heart-related diseases among children. LASUTH is one of the few owners of the machine in the country.  The dental clinic, which was recently expanded and better equipped, receives about 100 patients daily. Daily treatment has been facilitated by improved infrastructure. It has the capacity to attend to various dental challenges. The clinic is one of the most equipped in the country.

LASUTH has recorded lots of firsts in the medical field since coming into being in the country. It has successfully carried out the first valve repair in the heart of a patient. The surgery, which was carried out by a team of seven surgeons, was completed after a few hours of the exercise. Before this, no case of valve repair had been recorded in Nigeria on heart patients, except replacement cases. Similarly, LASUTH successfully pioneered the first devised closure of a hole in the heart in West Africa. Known as “Patent Ductus Arteriosus” (PDA), the landmark feat was achieved via non-surgical intervention in a three-year-old child. LASUTH equally scored another first in hearing surgery in the country when it restored the hearing of two deaf patients through implantation of artificial cochlear, the auditory portion of the inner ear.

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In order to sustain the tradition of excellence at LASUTH, the Lagos State University College of Medicine, LASUCOM, was established in 1999 primarily to produce competent medical professionals to serve Lagos residents. LASUCOM is today the toast of all other medical schools having been recently registered on the AVICENNA World Directory for Medical Education, a registry of renowned medical schools in the world. Arguably the best Medical School in Nigeria at the moment,  other medical schools seek out the method of LASUCOM as their master plan for development. Significant research with global impact has been carried out by LASUCOM lecturers. This includes the development of bilateral uterine artery ligation in the management of uterine fibroids which is a safe and effective method for the treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids especially in areas where access to high level medical technology is restricted.

The success story of LASUCOM is a testimony to the triumph of visionary and inspirational leadership. However, infrastructure development in LASUCOM is naturally impeded by lack of space. Its closeness to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport equally makes it impossible to improvise through the construction of high rising buildings. This, coupled with competition  for financial attention with other equally important government projects, readily condemns LASUCOM to early extinction. However, with a focused leadership, the college has surmounted seeming natural challenges. Today, it boasts of a standard modern mini-sports complex consisting of a football pitch, lawn tennis and basketball courts as well as other such facilities.

Similarly, the college has a students’ hostel that accommodates two students in a room and with all modern  facilities. Members of staff are also well catered for as the State Government has assisted the college to either purchase or rent housing units for its staff including 8 units at Ojokoro, 12 units at Shasha, and another 12 units in Marwa Gardens. The college also ensures that staff are transported to and from work in comfortable, fully air-conditioned staff buses plying 6 routes – Ojo, Sango, Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos Island and Ikorodu. Similarly, to ensure that vehicles are not parked indiscriminately at the college complex, the management of the college has completed the construction of a new car park complex to accommodate at least 150 cars at a time.

As a government that has demonstrated genuine intention to transform all sectors of the state, the Lagos State government remains resolute and unwavering in its commitment to the delivery of sound education and quality health care  to its citizenry. This is what the people deserve.

•Ogunbiyi  is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.