As part of its efforts to improve access to prompt, high-quality, and effective healthcare services throughout Lagos, the Lagos State Government has launched a “Floating Clinic Boat” for quick medical interventions along inland waterways and riverine communities.
Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, the Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Health, revealed the floating clinic after an inspection and explained that the innovation was used 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.
“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 reached by water,” he said.
The boat actually belongs to LASWA but will be operated by the Ministry of Health, so this is another instance of collaboration between various government agencies.
In order to ensure that emergency services in Lagos are stepped up to improve response times, Ogboye revealed that the boat clinic will be used for the ongoing integrated measles and COVID vaccination campaign in riverine communities throughout Lagos State. He pointed out that this is a plan initiated by the Sanwo-Olu administration.
The Permanent Secretary said there is a deliberate focus to expand, scale up, and integrate ambulance services like ambulance boats, mobile intensive care units, and transport ambulances, declaring that this is just the beginning of innovative ideas.
We planned it, so it’s happening. That is undoubtedly the reason we are beginning with a single boat and planning to grow. We already provide ambulance services; we are only expanding to include the waterways, and we have the staff to manage it, so it is a sustainable idea, Ogboye continued.
He said that people living in riverine communities could contact Lagos State Emergency Services to use the floating clinic’s services. “Once you contact the emergency numbers, the clinic will be deployed,” he said.
“LASWA may also use the clinic to respond to emergencies on the waterways. The emergency process will be activated if a call is received about an emergency on a waterway or in a remote or riverine area, he said.
Speaking as well, Mr. Damilola Emmanuel, General Manager of LASWA, predicted that the initiative would better integrate the emergency and rescue systems already in place for commuter safety in riverine communities.
“As you know, we at LASWA have been gradually expanding our emergency and rescue operations and gradually observing how the safety on the waterways keeps getting better year after year,” Emmanuel said. This is merely another effort to improve the comprehensive emergency and rescue system.
One of the main responsibilities of the Floating Clinic Boat, according to Dr. Oreoluwa Finnih, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Health, is medical outreach services to riverine communities for providing primary healthcare services, including immunisation, disease prevention, and health promotion to citizens.
Most people think of Lagos as being entirely urban, but we have come to realise that there are many communities along the waterways that are not necessarily connected to the city. As part of the mandate to achieve universal health coverage, Mr. Governor recognised this and ordered that medical services be brought to these areas. This was one of the reasons he quickly purchased the boat to close the identified gap in health access when this initiative was brought to his attention, she said.