Paul Osuyi, Asaba
The free healthcare programme for children under five years and pregnant women during the administration of immediate past governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan has been faulted by the present administration of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa.
The free healthcare scheme was seen as one of the major gains of the Uduaghan administration by the people of the state who felt apprehensive that the scheme was stopped by the present administration.
But the Director General of the newly constituted Delta State Contributory Health Commission, Dr. Ben Nkechika told journalists in Asaba on Wednesday that scheme lacked clear data base of beneficiaries during the Uduaghan days.
He said the scheme was running for years without data base, adding that the free healthcare programme was not taken to communities in grassroots where the most vulnerable people are but concentrated in secondary health facilities in urban centres.
“The free healthcare scheme for under five children and pregnant women was never stopped. The contributory health scheme of the present administration commenced on January 1, 2017 with the transition of the free maternal and free under five healthcare programme into the scheme.
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“The scheme now has over 350,000 enrollees comprising members of the public sector of the formal sector group, members of the informal sector groups and members of the equity group whose premium are paid for by the Delta State Government,” he said.
Nkechika who was flanked by the chairman of the commission, Dr. Isaac Akpoveta, explained that those that fall under the equity group were the vulnerable persons in the society including the pregnant women, children under five years, the aged and persons living with disabilities.
According to him, the free maternal and free under five healthcare scheme can now be accessed in the accredited 255 public primary and secondary healthcare facilities across the various communities as we as some accredited private healthcare facilities.
Besides, Nkechika stated the commission is “partnering with the Bank of Industry and the Pharmaccess Foundation for an ‘access to finance’ programme to revitalise 25 defunct healthcare facilities in rural communities leveraging on the private sector capacity and efficiency of service under the BoI SME programme.”
He said the commission is committed to achieving the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of universal health coverage by 2030 by providing equity access to quality health services, and ensuring that the beneficiaries are protected against financial risk.