DELTA State governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, has called on the Federal Government to implement the National Health Act to reduce the country’s dependence on counterpart fund from foreign donors.
Governor Okowa made the call on Wednesday during the kick off of the 2018 Measles Vaccination Campaign at Oleh, Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State.
“I wish to make a special appeal to the Federal Government to implement the National Health Act that was signed into law in December 2014.
“A clause in that Act provides for what we call the Basic Health Care Fund because” the Governor disclosed.
He added that “as of today, we are depending more and more on our development partners to provide money for vaccines generally and I know that there has been a lot of caution and warning that the funds available are dwindling and Nigeria needs to begin to make arrangements for its own vaccines purchase.”
According to Okowa, “the Basic Health-care Fund which is at least one percent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government is supposed to have counterpart funding from states and local governments and to be administered partially by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency and also by the state through the state Primary Healthcare Development Agency and Local Government Health Authority.
“We need to activate that particular clause so that we can make provisions for vaccines and also have the opportunity to train and retrain our health workers, it is well thought out and I feel very passionate about it because, while I was in the Senate, I drove that Bill to success and I feel pained that we have not still activated that clause.
“It is my hope that in the cause of this year, 2018, we will activate that clause and also put pressure on different states and local governments to provide the counterpart fund because we must continue to plan for the future of our children.
“Yes, it is important that we are supported, but, we cannot continue to rely completely on the support we get from outside the country,” he emphasised.
Okowa added that “the health of all Deltans including vulnerable groups such as children, aged under five, pregnant women and widows, is very important to the Delta State Government and as such, policies and programmes that impact positively on the health and well-being of residents of the State are formulated and implemented based on our commitment to ensuring that our people should be healthy at all times.”
The governor described measles as a critical childhood disease which can cause blindness, deafness and death. He urged all stakeholders including influential community groups, traditional rulers, opinion and religious leaders, to collaborate in an efficient manner to save children from measles and other childhood diseases.
“l specifically ask parents and guardians to use this opportunity to vaccinate children between ages 9 to 59 months at the nearest health facility or vaccination post irrespective of their current vaccination status,” Governor Okowa noted.
He used the occasion to thank development partners such as UNICEF, WHO, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, CDC-AFENET and other well-meaning groups for their various contributions to the success of health campaign and general well-being of children and mothers in the state.
While stating that such programmes like the Contributory Health Insurance Scheme were designed to ensure healthy Deltans, the governor assured Deltans that his administration was renovating primary health centres across the state to improve access to quality primary healthcare services to reduce the burden on secondary healthcare facilities.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Mordi Ononye, Chairman, Delta State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Isioma Okobah, Chairman of Isoko South local government area, Sir Itiako Ikpokpo and others, who spoke at the occasion which was attended by traditional rulers, representatives of UNICEF, WHO and other donor agencies, commended Okowa’s administration for its commitment to the payment of counterpart funds and to the well being of Deltans.