Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Thursday, 26 August, 2021 sought improved funding for primary healthcare and easing of legal logjams militating against effective running of what the governor called the bedrock of healthcare worldwide.
Speaking at the opening session of a one-day meeting on improving primary healthcare delivery attended by Commissioners of Health and Executive Secretaries of the Primary Healthcare Development Agencies (PHCDAs) from 22 states governed by All Progressives Congress (APC), the Governor said more attention ought to go into primary healthcare because of its significance for the society.
“At the moment primary healthcare caters for less than 20% of potential patients in Nigeria. This explains why enough resources and multi-stakeholders’ collaboration must go into this key area to change the narrative,” he observed.
“I acknowledge and commend the policy of primary healthcare under one roof. But the success of this policy depends on how much political will and resources we are ready to muster. We will also need to clear some constitutional impediments standing on its way. I expect that experts and sector players at this event will give a breakdown of these challenges and offer sustainable solutions.”
The Governor, who said the administration inherited a poorly funded PHCDA and collapsed infrastructure in the state, said Kwara has since turned the page through constant payment of counterpart funds and implementation of other strategies to improve access to quality basic healthcare.
He added: “For the first time since the establishment of primary healthcare agency in the state, we have recruited and deployed 42 new health workers. A process to recruit additional 155 is underway. We have renovated and equipped 27 PHCs across the state. We have conducted refresher trainings for hundreds of healthcare workers this year alone on life saving skills, patient care management, basic emergency obstetric care etc. I have also approved the engagement of 200 Community Health Influencers Promoters Scheme (CHIPS) agents to strengthen basic healthcare delivery at the grassroots.
“We have promptly paid and will continue to pay counterpart funds to ensure that necessary health care interventions are available to our people. The implementation of Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) has taken off in the state, with 158 facilities so far cleared and equipped to enrol in the scheme.
“We have set up and adequately funded the State Emergency Routine Immunisation Coordination Centre. And just recently, the State Emergency Maternal and Child Health Intervention Centre was activated to revamp maternal and Child Health intervention services across our PHCs.
“We are also activating the Community Health Influencers Promoters Scheme (CHIPS). Approval has been given for immediate recruitment of 200 CHIPS agents to strengthen basic healthcare in our state.”
The event, attended by Deputy Governor Kayode Alabi and cabinet members, was organised by the Kwara State Ministry of Health and the Kwara State Primary Healthcare Development Agency led by Dr Raji Razaq and Dr. Nusirat Elelu respectively.
Director-General of Progressives Governors Forum Salihu Lukman, for his part, said the meeting was part of the plan of the APC controlled states to produce a policy framework on primary healthcare development agency with a view to ensuring uniformity in addressing issues of maternal health and nutrition.
“We are working on a prototype policy framework on primary health care development agency in consultation with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, World Health Organisation, and other relevant organisations. We will present a draft framework to be adopted on primary healthcare development agency in all the APC states soon,” he said.
“This is one of programmes designed in 2019 and it was decided emphatically that one of the priorities of the APC controlled states is the issue of maternal and child nutrition. Based on that we worked with secretaries to the state government of APC controlled states and developed a framework and thereafter had engagement with the commissioners of health and education. Part of what slowed it implementation was the COVID-19 reality.”
World Health Organisation Country Representative Dr Walter Mulombo said Nigeria has been making commendable efforts to deepen public access to primary healthcare over the past few years, adding that such efforts had resulted in the primary healthcare under one roof policy and the basic healthcare provision fund.
“The rapid scale of these interventions in addition to the revitalisation of 10,000 primary healthcare centres by His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari attests to the selfless leadership and commitment to the by the current government to the people of Nigeria,” Mulombo said.
“I am aware of challenges to the functionalities of primary healthcare centres in Nigeria. Addressing that is skilled manpower, increasing coverage and quality health insurance scheme, increasing primary healthcare financing and strengthening primary healthcare management system will serve a better good.
“I am confident that deliberations from this initiative will seek to ensure rapid advancement of primary health care development revitalisation agenda in your respective states. You can continue to count on the full support of WHO in shaping strategies and providing technical guidelines in achieving the milestones to meet universal health coverage.”
The one-day event drew participants from 22 APC states across Nigeria.