The Lagos State Government has launched a ‘Floating Clinic Boat’ for swift medical interventions along inland waterways and riverine communities as part of efforts to enhance access to prompt, qualitative and efficient healthcare services across Lagos.
Unveiling the floating clinic after inspection, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr Olusegun Ogboye, explained that innovation was introduced to help provide first aid, medical emergency care and basic healthcare services at accident scenes on the inland waterways and riverine communities in Lagos State.
His words: “This is part of initiatives by the Ministry of Health to ensure that we extend our medical and ambulance service to the waterways, remote riverine communities and areas that can only be accessed by water. This is also an example of partnership between different agencies of government; the boat belongs to LASWA but will be operated by the Ministry of Health”.
Dr Ogboye disclosed that the boat clinic will be deployed for the ongoing integrated measles and COVID vaccination campaign in riverine communities across Lagos State, pointing out that it is a plan initiated by the Sanwo-Olu administration to ensure that emergency services in Lagos are ramped up to improve response time.
Declaring that this is just the beginning of innovative ideas, the Permanent Secretary said there is a deliberate focus to expand, scale-up and integrate ambulance services such as ambulance boats, mobile intensive care units and transport ambulances.
“It is something that we have planned. That is certainly why we are starting with one boat and we are going to expand. It is a sustainable idea, we already run ambulance services, we are only expanding to include the waterways and we have the human resources to run it”, Ogboye asserted.
He stated that residents in riverine communities can access the services of the floating clinic through the Lagos State Emergency Services numbers, saying “Once you contact the emergency numbers, the clinic will be deployed. LASWA can also deploy the clinic during emergency responses on the waterways. If there is a call about an emergency on the waterways, remote and riverine areas, the emergency process will be activated”.
Speaking in the same vein, the General Manager, LASWA, Mr Damilola Emmanuel, envisaged that the initiative will further integrate emergency and rescue systems being put in place by LASWA for commuter safety in riverine communities.
Emmanuel said: “As you know, for us at LASWA, we have been gradually building emergency and rescue efforts and gradually seeing how the safety on the waterways keeps improving year after year. This is just another initiative to further add to the integrated emergency and rescue system”.
Earlier, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Health, Dr Oreoluwa Finnih, stated that one of the core tasks of the Floating Clinic Boat is medical outreach services to riverine communities for providing primary healthcare services including immunisation, disease prevention and health promotion to citizens.
“Most people have the impression that Lagos is a completely urban city but for us, we realise that Lagos has a lot of communities along the waterways, which are not necessarily connected to the city. Mr Governor, recognising this, directed that medical services be taken to these areas as part of the mandate to achieve universal health coverage. When this initiative was brought to his attention, this was one of the factors that led to the quick acquisition of the boat to bridge the identified gap in health access”, she explained
The Floating Clinic Boat, a brainchild of the Lagos State Ministry of Health and the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), is equipped with four medical observation beds, a medium sterilisation unit, and an oxygen bottle, gauge, infusion stand, foldable stretcher and fully kitted first aid box.