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Okowa bemoans Nigeria’s status as lowest country in public health financing

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Governor ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Thursday, bemoaned the abysmal 0.5 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in public health spending and described the nation as being among the lowest in public healthcare financing.

Thus, he said that 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.

This was as he advocated for a national policy on responding and managing unforseen public healthcare crisis.

He observed that the absence of such a framework as well as the novel nature of COVID-19 posed a major drawback in articulating a coordinated response at the initial stage of the pandemic in the country.

Speaking at the 44th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) with the theme, HealthCare Infrastructure Optimization and Adoption in the face of a Global Pandemic: The COVID-19 Challenge”, held at the Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH), Oghara, he noted that each state was 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”, he said.

The governor, who also inspected ongoing rehabilitation of facilities at DELSUTH, expressed his administration’s readiness to extend same to other facilities in the state within the limits of available resources.

Chairman of the occasion and former Governor of Delta, James Ibori, in his remarks, commended Governor Okowa and former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for conceiving the idea of building the teaching hospital in Oghara.

He said that doctors were at the vanguard of saving human lives, especially in the pandemic and urged them to remain dedicated to the course of humanity.

On his part, Uduaghan, who was Guest of Honour at the event, congratulated NARD for their dexterity in being the “military arm of NMA”.

He commended Governor Okowa for approving the Residency Training Programme for doctors in the state.

He added that on commencement of the Delsuth in 2010, his administration engaged diaspora doctors, nurses and pharmacists to exchange ideas.

“The staff mix helped the image of the hospital to successfully carry out knee replacement surgery and kidney transplant with partnership from the University of Texas.” Uduaghan stated.

President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Prof Innocent Ujah in his goodwill message said NARD has evolved over the years to become vibrant, progressive and a dynamic affiliate of the NMA.

He commended the outgoing executive for their focused leadership and urged members to extend same support to the incoming administration.

Chief Medical Director of Delsuth, Dr Onome Ogueh said Delsuth was the apex health institution in the state with a vision to provide world class health care for all Deltans. He said the hosting of the 40th Annual General Meeting of NARD in Delsuth was the first time a state university teaching hospital was playing host to the NARD Secretariat.

National President of NARD, Dr Aliu Sokomba, represented by First Vice President, Dr Julian Ojebo said the pandemic had brought a new challenge to medical practice in a very poorly funded health industry in Nigeria.

He said NARD fought to ensure domestication of the Residency Training Act and lauded the contributions of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to the National Health Act as well as his pioneering efforts towards domestication of the Residency Training Act.

Highpoint of the occasion was the presentation of several awards to Governor Okowa as the Ambassador for State Health Tertiary Institutions in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the National Health Act and implementation of the Residency Training Act 2017.