By Olusola Alatise
Dr. Mimiko delivering his address at the event
On March 12, 2016, a new baby was born in Ondo State named University of Medical Sciences, located at Laje road, Ondo city in Ondo West local government of the state.This new university is not only new to the people of Ondo State and Nigeria in general, but to the entire West African countries. UNIMED is the third in the entire African continent after South Africa and Sudan.
It depends on the interpretation of individuals, but one cannot overrule that the fact that the university is the fruit of the ingenuity of Governor Olusegun Mimiko in the area of health care delivery to the people of the State and Nigeria generally.
The adventure of the new university whose acronym is UNIMED began on April, 2015, after the Executive Secretary, National University Commission (NUC), Professor Julius Okojie presented the Governor of Ondo Dr Olusegun Mimiko letter of recognition of the University at an event held in Abuja. The presentation of the letter thus signal a paradigm shift in Medical Education in Nigeria with UNIMED emerging the first Medical University in the country.
Very few of such university presently exist around the world. Apart from being the first in Nigeria, and the third in Africa. The Medical University of South Africa in Pretoria and the Medical University of Science and Technology in Sudan are currently the only two of its kind in Africa.
The Poznan University Medical Sciences, New York; the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; and the Charles Drew University of Medicine in Los Angeles, California, all in the USA are examples of Medical Universities in existence at the global level.
The Pro Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University and Pioneer Vice-Chancellor of University of Ilorin, Emeritus Prof Oladipo Akinkugbe said there are many unique features as one of the only three University of Medical or Health Sciences in Africa South of Sahara.
“There are many features to bring to the attention of this distinguished audience. It is one of only three University of Medical or Health Sciences in Africa South of Sahara, and indeed the only one of its type in West Africa. It is commencing modestly but confidently, and its already endowed with a robust coterie of academic and administrative staff, a number of impressive physical structure both preclinical and clinical. It can also boast of an undergraduate population of over 200, all merit worthy. “
One beautiful thing about the establishment of the university around the Medical Village is that other institutions within the village, which includes Mother and Child hospital; Trauma and Surgical Centre and the Kidney Care Centre are to provide training facilities for the students.In positioning the university as a world-class institution, the cutoff marks set for the students who applied for Medicine and Surgery were pegged at an aggregate score of 72, while the admission list was strictly based on merit. The five courses being run in the school namely, Medicine, Anatomy, Biochemistry, Physiology and Dentistry are tailored towards the advice of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN).
From the inception of Mimiko’s administration in 2009 till date, it has been almost every month with new ideas from Mother and Child Hospital, Akure and Ondo to Abiye Safe Motherhood to Orirewa as well as the routine immunization which has earned the state the Bill and Melinda Gate Award for two consecutive years.
Apart from this area of Primary health care mentioned earlier, the Gani Fawehinmi Diagnostic Center, Ondo, the Trauma Center, Emergency Medical Services, Kidney and Renal Centre were established by Governor Mimiko.
The first of its kind, this new University will of highly trained and proficient health care man power for the teeming population of the state and Nigeria in general. not only complement these medical services but provide the manpower needed and reverse the ‘brain drain’ syndrome in Ondo State and Nigeria Medical sector and to create an institution base for the production of highly trained and proficient health care man power for the teeming population of the state and Nigeria in general.
“This University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, the first in Nigeria and 2nd in Africa, is therefore our strategic response to reverse the’brain drain’ in Nigeria’s medical industry and create an institutional base for the production of highly-trained and proficient health care manpower to service our ever-growing population.”. Said Governor Mimiko while inaugurating the University.
This University is not only new and unique to us here in Ondo State and Nigeria but very rare even in the whole world. This propelled the Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission, Prof Julius Okojie represented by his Deputy, Prof Chiedu Mafiana to say that Governor Mimiko has written his name in gold like the third President of United States of America, Thomas Jefferson whom he said was only remembered for establishing the University of Virginia.
“You will recall sir that Thomas Jefferson was a one time diplomat, he was the first Secretary of state in America, a former Vice President of United States of America and the third President of United States of America. When he died, the only thing that was written on his tomb was that he established the University of Virginia despite all he has achieved in life. Now sir, you had established this unique University and history will never forget you. “
Apart from all the Awards that the health initiative of Governor Mimiko has earned him nationally and internationally and his Abiye Safe Motherhood that had been in the dictionary of the World Health Organizations, people who had made names globally has attested to the leadership traits of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko particularly in the area of health and called other governors to emulate him so that capital flight on health ground will be reduced. Former Secretary-General of Commonwealth of Nations Chief Emeka Anyaoku, who was Chairman at the symposium organized to mark the 40th anniversary of the creation of Ondo State and the 7th anniversary of the present administration said Governor Mimiko in the last seven years has demonstrated uncommon leadership traits in all sectors particularly in the health sector.
“I had been reading in the newspapers in the past years the doggedness of Governor Olusegun Mimiko in the areas of Abiye and other core areas of life. Mimiko had demonstrated determination to leave Ondo State better than he met it.
“If we have more of Governor Olusegun Mimiko across the federation, we would have succeeded in stopping people seeking medical tourism abroad and will definitely reduce capital flight “
Governor Olusegun Mimiko at the inauguration and maiden matriculation of UNIMED said it was a fulfillment of his dream to build a tertiary institution in Medical Sciences, dedicated to training, services and research and feel fulfilled that he was not only part of the historic ceremony but that the future of health care development in Ondo State and Nigeria is guaranteed.
He added that he has equally been able to allay the concern of all the key local and international partners about the sustainability of Abiye Safe Motherhood programme and other life-changing initiatives.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am indeed elated not only to be part of this historic ceremony but also that the future of health care development in Ondo State and Nigeria is guaranteed. We have equally been able to allay the concern of all our key local and international partners about the sustainability of Abiye Safe Motherhood programme and other game-changing initiatives.”
He attributed the problems in the nation’s and continental health delivery system to the dearth of seasoned, well-trained professionals in the medical industry and the exodus of many competent doctors, pharmacist, nurses and others in search of greener pasture.
“The dearth of seasoned, well-trained professionals in the medical industry has been the bane of qualitative, efficient and sustainable health care delivery system in Africa. The scenario is all the more compounded by the exodus of many competent doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other professionals, who in search of better training and working conditions, have moved overseas, thereby making the WHO’s Health Care Professional-Patient ratio unachievable.”
The exemplary curricula and programmes of UNIMED in various Health disciplines set it apart as model in medical education, which will endear its method of specialised education to health care providers and decision-makers around the world.
For a university which boasts of council members headed by an Emeritus Professor of n the field of Medicine, the sky is surely the starting point for UNIMED in achieving the mission and vision of Medical Education. Medicine, Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe alongside the Vice Chancellor, Professor Friday Okonofua, as well as notable practitioners in the field of Medicine, the sky is surely the starting point for UNIMED in achieving the mission and vision of Medical Education.
The political will is also there with the Governor of the State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko being a Medical Doctor himself.
With the takeoff of the university as a medical hub providing excellence service delivery in training and research in various
medical disciplines, it is the desire of Nigerians that UNIMED will provide mechanisms that will stem the current tide of increasing brain-drain and medical tourism that has been a clog in the wheel of Nigeria’s economic growth.
Ondo State will now start producing lots of first class medical doctors that can practice in any part of the world. The specialized University has now provided a National benchmark in Nigeria, while also becoming a global reference point in Medical Education.
Prof Friday Okonofua, the pioneer Vice-Chancellor said the objectives of UNIMED is to establish a 21st century world-class university of excellence in medical research, teaching and service delivery.
He vowed that the university will work assiduously and relentlessly to correct the mistakes that currently bedeviled medical education and service delivery in this country..
“Our principal objective is to establish a 21st century World-class university of excellence in Medical research, teaching and service delivery. I wish to let you know that these mission and vision statements were developed after intense deliberations, and to assure everyone present here today, that we are deeply committed to its actualization, surely, it will not be business as usual.
This university will work assiduously and relentlessly to correct the mistakes that bedeviled medical education and service delivery in this country. As the Vice-Chancellor, I wish to assure you that I will work with utmost patriotism and with deep commitment, transparency and accountability to achieve the best International benchmark for the University within the shortest period of time. “