There’s no denying the place of quality healthcare in assessing human development, as humans have to be first of all, hale and hearty to engage in any meaningful socio-economic activity. This, over time, underpins governments’ prioritisation of healthcare as an integral part of development planning.
In Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki has healthcare as a critical part of his holistic plan to attain a total, thriving society. The governor’s focus in reforming the health sector is considered by experts as apt and germane. The governor is deploying a reformist approach aimed at transforming the state’s healthcare sector. The series of interventions is anchored under the Edo Healthcare Improvement Programme (Edo-HIP), which has kicked off with the rebuilding of 20 Primary Healthcare Centers across the state’s 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs).
Governor Obaseki on October 31 launched the Edo State Social Health Insurance/Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) as well as revamped Primary Healthcare Centers under the Edo- Primary Health Improvement Programme.
The state had made an initial contribution of N100m to access the BHCPF, opening up opportunities to energise its health insurance programme. All of these tie up to an organic whole of a systemic plan to retool the primary healthcare system to be able to meet the needs of ordinary Edo people.
Speaking at the launch of the scheme, Governor Obaseki said the focus of his administration is to improve the lives of the people through good education and provision of basic healthcare services accessible to all Edo people and residents.
He noted that his administration is set out to provide accessible and affordable healthcare services to residents of the state, adding that his administration is focused on human capacity development by providing robust basic education and quality healthcare.
“Our emphasis and the bulk of money that accrue to the state is dedicated to improve the lives of the people of Edo State through quality health and education. We are spending more than 50 per cent of our recurrent expenditure on healthcare and education.
“Edo Health Improvement Programme (Edo-HIP) will enable us to deal with health challenges in the state. This means a total revamp of our entire health system from basic to secondary and specialist care. Edo-HIP is comprehensive,” he added.
The governor noted that the focus of his administration is to establish 230 PHCs across Edo State as the centers will serve as referral centers, noting, “You will not be attended to in General Hospitals without referral from your PHCs.”
On training and support for health officials, Obaseki said, “We have put in Information Communication Technology (ICT) to help capture information and pass it to a central database. The information gathered will be used for referrals. All over the world, healthcare services are not cheap but affordable, which is achieved by pulling resources together.
“We have established a Health Insurance Agency in Edo State backed by law for every citizen, as it’s now compulsory for every Edo citizen to have health insurance. You will be given a card that will enable you access healthcare in the state provided you are enrolled. For the civil servant and local government workers in Edo State, they will be compulsorily enrolled into the scheme from 1st January 2020. Finance will not hold citizens back from getting healthcare.”
Osagie Ehanire Minister of Health, said that the BHCPF will commit N573m to enable Edo people to benefit from essential services after the details are worked out and the healthcare system begins to function, adding, “The fund is disbursed to states equitably and on per capital basis using a poverty index determined by the World Bank.
“This will guarantee that the BHCPF will reach the deserving population and reduce inequality in access to health services, particularly by the vulnerable. Public Health Emergencies and other emergency medical services shall also be addressed through the fund.”
Ehanire said “the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is committed to its mandate of improving the health and productivity of Nigerians in its commitment to human capital development, consistent with national goals in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). His desire is to lift 100 million Nigeria out of poverty in the next 10 years.”
Campaign against Lassa Fever
One-way Governor Obaseki is confronting the challenges in the health sector is the swift response to public health emergency, especially in keeping the Lassa Fever disease at bay.
The governor came to the rescue of a federal institution, the Irrua Specialist Hospital when Lassa Fever was ravaging some states in the country with the procurement and supply of health facilities required to halt the spread of the scourge.
The Edo State Government under Governor Obaseki established a new Lassa fever treatment centre in Benin City, the state capital, to make treatment of the disease more accessible to the people, while planning is ongoing to build another treatment centre in Auchi to carter for patients in Edo North Senatorial District.
David Osifo, a former state Commissioner for Health, said the idea in setting up the treatment centre in Benin was to decongest the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) which offers treatment for the disease, with the Benin treatment centre located at the Stella Obasanjo Hospital, equipped to handle most of the Lassa Fever cases in Edo South.
He explained, “We have built another centre at Stella Obasanjo centre to make treatment more accessible to the people because Irrua is far from town. We are building another one in Auchi in Edo North and it will be completed soon. We plan to duplicate the equipment we have in ISTH at the Auchi treatment centre. This means that each of the three senatorial districts in Edo will have a treatment centre.
Osifo said by the time the state government put all these facilities in place, the high mortality rate in the state will drop with the state government expending over N100 million for the procurement of equipment for the control and treatment of Lassa fever at the ISTH in 2019. The amount was used to procure two dialysis machines, mobile x-ray machine, ventilator, personal protective equipment and drugs.
The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) commended Governor Obaseki for his administration’s timely interventions and support which contributed to the drastic reduction in the rate of spread of the disease in the state in 2019.
WHO, World Bank, FG’s commendation
The World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Bank and President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal the government have commended Governor Obaseki on the implementation of EdoHIP, for its focus to make healthcare affordable and accessible to residents across the state.
The Officer in-Charge of World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria, Dr Peter Clement, described the vision of Governor Obaseki to consolidate the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) agenda and the implementation of the BHCPF as a demonstration of strong stewardship towards the attainment of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Social Health Insurance Scheme enrolment commences
As modalities are being finalised for the roll-out of State’s Social Health Insurance Scheme, the Edo State Primary Health Development Care Agency (EPHCDA), has kickstarted an enrolment programme that would run from November 21 to 30, so as to galvanise the people to take full advantage of the offerings from EdoHIP.
Mbarie Imuwahen, executive secretary of the EPHCDA, said the team from the agency has visited communities in Ovia North East to register and enrol some of the rural dwellers in the programme so they can benefit from the government’s move to make access to quality healthcare seamless.
She noted that the state’s Ministry of Health is working assiduously to achieve the government’s directive for the efficient operation of the Health Insurance Scheme with the Commissioner, Patrick Okundia, leading the charge.
According to her, “The team was in Egbatta and Odunna community in Ovia North East for registration and enrolment of residents into the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund/Health Insurance Scheme. The communities are close to the Odunna Primary Health Care Center, which is among the 20 that was recently reconstructed.
“These are efforts to ensure a smooth kick-off of the Health Insurance Scheme in the state. We are happy that we are making progress. The health insurance scheme will ensure that the state government deploys the requisite materials to meet the health needs of residents in the state and it is important to get accurate data towards the realization of this goal.”
Alfred Iyesogie, the Odionwere of Oduna community, thanked the team for the exercise in the community, noting that they have his full support for the enrolment of members of his community for the scheme.
According to Clement, if the Edo State Government leverages on the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, it will go a long way in enhancing the implementation of the Edo Health Improvement Programme.
He said, “Both the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPBCDA) gateway will be crucial in fostering social health insurance and revamping of the primary healthcare facilities respectively under Edo-HIP.”
Olumide Okunola, senior Health Specialist, World Bank, praised the governor for the commitment to improve the wellbeing of Edo people and residents in the state, which he noted will provide Edo people access to Healthcare.
OSA VICTOR OBAYAGBONA