Governor (Sen. Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State

COVID-19: Governor calls for sustainable health financing in Nigeria

*Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State advocates a national policy on managing unforeseen public health crises

*Vulnerable women, children most affected by disruptions to health services amid COVID-19 crises

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In view of the negligible 0.5 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) appropriated for public healthcare spending in Nigeria, Governor (Sen. Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has called for the adoption and implementation of a viable and sustainable healthcare financing programme for states in the country.

ConsumerConnect reports Okowa said this in a statement issued in Asaba, Delta State capital, after addressing the 40th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Scientific Conference of Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) in Oghara.

The NARD AGM, with the theme; “Health Care Infrastructure Optimisation and Adaptation in the face of a Global Pandemic: The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Challenge”, held at the Delta State University Teaching Hospital, Oghara.

The governor, who is a medical doctor and former Senator, disclosed that with abysmal 0.5 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in public health spending, the country has had one of the lowest public healthcare financing globally.

He, therefore, advocated a national policy on responding and managing unforeseen public health crises.

The absence of such a framework as well as the novel nature of the Coronavirus, poses a major drawback in articulating a coordinated response at the initial stage of the pandemic in the country, said he.

However, the governor stated that his administration had agreed to fund 80 percent of the training requirements enshrined in the Residency Training Act (2017) as agreed with NARD and DELSUTH and urged the doctors to reciprocate the gesture with renewed vigour and commitment to their duties.

Okowa also commended medical doctors and healthcare providers for their courage, commitment and determination to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

He disclosed that Nigeria survived COVID-19 and previous public health emergencies/outbreaks due to the sacrifice, dedication, ingenuity and resourcefulness of healthcare providers.

He said: “Regrettably, many of them got infected during the pandemic, while some, sadly, paid the supreme price.”

He expressed hope that the meeting would offer good opportunity to review the ongoing national efforts to combat the pandemic, as well as assess the country’s readiness to respond appropriately to future public health emergencies.

He said “I believe we can turn this crisis into an opportunity to bolster our health infrastructure, expand capacity and upgrade manpower in the health sector in such a way that our healthcare system will be better poised to deal with future outbreaks.”

According to him, “in Delta, we developed a strategic implementation plan focused on clear deliverables that are in line with the provisions of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund component of the National Health Act.

“Similarly, the guidelines of the National Health Insurance Scheme were aligned with the prevailing peculiarities of the Delta State healthcare service system.

“As the frontrunner in the implementation of this scheme, I am proud to inform this gathering that Delta State Government has accredited 405 health facilities to operate the scheme.

“This comprises 268 Primary Health Care Centers, 66 Secondary Healthcare Facilities, 65 Private Healthcare Facilities, one Federal Medical Center, three Abuja Healthcare Facilities and two Lagos Healthcare Facilities to operate the scheme in the state.

“Total number of enrollees is currently 788,740; we can be proud of the progress we have made even though there is still much work to be done.

“In the post COVID-19, there is a compelling need to adopt and implement a viable and sustainable healthcare financing programme for all States in the country.

“Each state is primarily responsible for the financing and implementation of its healthcare system.

“A healthcare financing programme that is focused on up-scaling primary healthcare services, enhancement of human-resource-for-health capacity, deployment of a technology enhanced healthcare services delivery process and improved access to measurable quality healthcare services outcome for all, is an imperative”.

Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) has said that COVID-19 threatens progress in women and children’s health worldwide.

In a report Friday, September 25, the UN disclosed that the Coronavirus pandemic currently threatens to turn back the clock on a decade of progress in women and children’s health.

It was learnt that the report highlighted significant advances made since the launch of the UN’s Every Woman Every Child movement 10 years ago,l.

These include more than one billion children being vaccinated, and deaths of under-fives reaching an all-time low in 2019.

Nonetheless, the report observed that these gains were not evenly distributed across the globe.

The global body said that in 2019, about 5.2 million children died of preventable causes before reaching age 5, and 82 per cent of those deaths were concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The Coronavirus crisis is exacerbating existing inequalities, with the most vulnerable women and children most affected by disruptions to health services, stated the UN report.

It warned that without more efforts at tackling preventable child deaths, 48 million children under five could die between 2020 and 2030.

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director,  in a press statement, said:  “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a child under the age of five died every six seconds somewhere around the world.

“Millions of children living in conflict zones and fragile settings face even greater hardship with the onset of the pandemic.”

Kindly Share This Story