Saint Mary's Hospital, Eleta

Saint Mary’s Hospital at Eleta, Ibadan, Nigeria, was founded in 1964 by Bishop Richard Finn. The hospital is located in Oyo State. The population of the state is around ten million and that of the city about six million. Eleta has become densely populated since the hospital started. It is an area of poor people.

Saint Mary's started as a 64-bed hospital and has grown to 176 beds. It flourished for years as a voluntary agency hospital. Between 1980 and 1986 the management of the hospital was under the government, in the context of the free healthcare programme. By 1983 this programme ground to a halt and the hospital ran into considerable problems from lack of drugs and lack of maintenance of the infrastructure. The State handed the hospital back to the diocese on January 1, 1986.
The services provided consist of:

General outpatient and special clinics for medical, surgical, gynaecological cases, and emergencies.

There are male and female inpatient wards for surgical and medical cases, an obstetrics and gynaecology ward, a paediatric ward, and a ward for private patients.

Diagnostic departments include a medical laboratory, X-ray, and ultrasound. There is an operating theatre and pharmacy.

Support services include administration, an internal audit department, security, and cleaning.

This package of hospital-based care can be defined as second to third line because the four key specialty areas (obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, internal medicine and surgery) are covered at consultant level, which is mostly part-time. It is very similar to the services of the surrounding hospitals. Only University College Hospital  Ibadan provides a higher level of care and Saint Mary’s refers cases there.

Primary Health Care
Saint Mary’s Hospital runs an extensive outreach programme covering twenty-three villages and one outstation. The team is headed by a Senior Nursing Officer with community health experience and the team goes out to one or more villages every weekday. The activities undertaken during the visits include:

  • Treatment of minor ailments
  • Maternal and child care
  • Immunizations of children between 0 and 2 years of age for six childhood diseases, and tetanus vaccinations for school children, pregnant women and some farmers;
  • Health education and first aid training;
  • Nutrition education and food demonstrations.
  • Community mobilisation and community participation to enable the communities to improve their health.

In addition, static preventive services, mainly immunisations, antenatal care, and health education, are provided in the OPD.

HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care
From 1986 the hospital has been involved in HIV/AIDS screening, prevention and care and has built a network of NGOs that support the hospital in this work. Saint Mary’s provides:

Voluntary counselling and testing (VCT), prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), and home-based care.

It also supports a group of HIV-positive persons with their spouses through monthly counselling and provision of some material support. A group of orphans is followed and assisted for their education or vocational training.

These activities are supported by three local NGOs (Centre for Child Health and Education, AIDS Prevention Initiative of Nigeria, and Tulsi-Chanrai Foundation).  They provide mainly materials: test kits, drugs, and funds for training.

Saint Mary's Hospital, Eleta, is part of an important strategic planning exercise by MMM, which is addressing all aspects of management and services, assessing the difficulties faced and seeking solutions in a very challenging context.