By Gabriel Olawale
With over 500,000 enrolees registered under the Delta State Contributory Health Commission, especially in the rural and hard to reach areas, Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, recently approved the renovation of over 100 Primary Healthcare Centers by the Local Governments in the State, towards addressing the dearth of health facilities meant to provide services to enrolees of the State health insurance scheme.
In realisation of the need to partner with the private sector, the State government also commenced implementation of the Access to Finance Framework that engenders a Public-Private Partnership as a panacea to quality service delivery at the Primary Healthcare level.
It will be recalled that in November 2017, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa approved the implementation of a Scheme that birthed a solid partnership between the State Government, through the Delta State Contributory Health Commission, the Bank of Industry, financial institutions and the PharmAccess Foundation.
The Scheme is a framework that supports outsourcing of defunct and abandoned healthcare facilities to the private sector to revitalize and provide services to the enrolees of the health insurance scheme especially in the rural areas. In addition, through a matching fund arrangement between the Bank of Industry and the State Government, the private sector players would have access to loans with concessionary interest rates to renovate these facilities.]
The Medical Credit Fund of the PharmAccess Foundation was selected to provide partial guarantees to the Lenders on the loans they avail to the private sector players in addition to business development support to ensure sustainability. The facilities would also be quality assured through the adoption of the SafeCare methodology of the PharmAccess Foundation.
Over the next year, stakeholder meetings resulted in the selection of reputable private sector players to take over 25 defunct health facilities.
Speaking at the handover ceremony in Asaba, where agreements were signed between the partners for renovation, operation and transfer, Board Chairman, Delta State Contributory Commission, DSCHC, Olorogun Isaac Apkoveta said there are several health centres in different communities that have not been put to use.
“With this agreement, the private sector will take over the running of the centres, equip them to standard and ensure that they are operational 24 hours for our people who have enrolled in the contributory health insurance scheme”.
The Director-General of the DSCHC, Dr. Ben Nkechika, stated that innovation which led to the signing of the agreement was very important “to achieve the desired milestone.”
He noted that, with the agreements, the private sector will have access to funds at a single digit interest loan from the Bank of Industry to fix and run the abandoned health centres.
“This innovative product will ensure availability of 24 hours quality healthcare services across Delta for the state Contributory Health Scheme, ensure continuity of healthcare services during strikes and other industrial disputes, as well as more healthcare service options for residents of Delta State,” he explained.
Country Director, PharmAccess Foundation, Ms. Njide Ndili stated: “The Medical Credit Fund is focused on developing innovative models to include the private sector to maximize efficiency and access to existing Primary Healthcare Centers anchored on health insurance”.
She added that the Access to Finance scheme was very important to make funds available to the private sector who will partner with the Delta State government in achieving quality and affordable healthcare for Deltans through the contributory health insurance scheme.
Director Advocacy and Communications at the PharmAccess Foundation, Dr. Olamide Okulaja, appreciated the pragmatic approach of the Governor in solving the issues which plagued the Primary Healthcare level in the country.
He further stated that with less than 5,000 out of over 24,000 PHCs functional in the country, this framework may represent a veritable way of providing a vibrant supply side to the several demand-side activities springing up across the country including the State Health Insurance Schemes and the implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.
The Governor had earlier approved for renovation 107 health centres across the State.