By Anayo Okoli
OVIM—MEMBERS of Civil Society Organizations, journalists and health experts recently converged on the hilly serene Ovim community in Isiukwuato Local Government Area of Abia State to brainstorm on how to improve primary health care service in the rural areas of the State.
The main issue deliberated on was the level of assistance the Abia State Government was providing on the lucrative new health delivery programme initiated by the Federal Government tagged primary health care under one roof (PHCUOR), and the revelations at the workshop indicate that the Government is still very far from properly keying into the programme to enable them get the far-reaching benefits.
Organized by Dr. Ejike Oji Community Development Foundation, the workshop examined some key milestone achievements/gains of primary health care under one roof which includes saving the lives of over 80% of rural women who died during child birth, bringing comprehensive health care very close to the people, particularly the rural people, granting financial autonomy to the State primary health care development agency, among others.
To ensure the success of the programme, the Federal Government has set up Basic Healthcare Provision Fund [The Health Care Fund) established by the National Health Act, No 8 of 2014. Contributions into the Fund shall be as follows: Annual grant from the Federal Government of Nigeria amounting to not less than one percent of its Consolidated Revenue Fund; Additional contributions from donors, international partners and others who wish to either donate or contribute into the Fund; funds from any other sources, including but not limited to investments and earned interest.
To ensure that State Government are held liable the law makes it a pre-condition for accreditation of primary healthcare facilities in all States who wish to benefit from this operational funding for specific areas of Primary Health Care to establish (or is in the process of establishing) a State Primary Health Care Development Agency (SPHCDA).
For qualified states, 50 per cent cent of the Fund shall be used for the provision of the basic minimum package of health services to citizens, in eligible primary or secondary health care facilities through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS); 20 per cent of the Fund shall be used to provide essential drugs, vaccines and consumables for eligible primary healthcare facilities; 15 per cent of the Fund shall be used for the provision and maintenance of facilities, equipment and transport for eligible primary healthcare facilities;10 per cent of the Fund shall be used for the development of human resources for primary health care while 5 per cent of the Fund shall be used for emergency medical treatment to be administered by a Committee appointed by the National Council on Health.
What Abia state loses for not fully keying into the programme
The State Government, according to health experts could lose as much as $11 million dollars for not completing all the processes to key into the programme and begin to access the funds which would go a long way to improve health care services in hundreds of the health care centres lying waste across the State.
To state with the Government must give financial autonomy to the implementing agency, Abia State Primary Health Agency and all also bring together all the staff scattered all over the 17 Local Government councils for effective manpower management. The Government could also attract over N4.5 billion to improve health care if they fully comply with the provisions of Basic Healthcare Provision Fund. But there is fears that these condition might not be met because of vested interests by State and Local Government authorities who would lose out in the case of financial autonomy of the primary health care agency.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu must demonstrate political will and ensure that Abia State fully key into this as it would immensely assist in his health care programme. There is a lot of fund to attract also from the World Bank to move the health care of the state forward. He should not allow vested interest of a few to block what would greatly benefit the rural masses. 28 states have already properly set up their primary health care agencies and it would not surprise anybody what they would doing in the area of primary health care services.
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