The Akwa Ibom State Government has finalized plans to commence the full implementation of the State Primary Health Care Development Agency (SPHCDA) in line with the Federal Government’s Primary Health Care under one roof (PHCUOR) which aims at tackling obstacles that impede the actualization of primary health care goals.

The Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Primary Health Care Board, Dr. Martin Akpan, revealed this last week at a two day workshop for Journalists on investigative healthcare reporting organized by International Press Centre, at Uyo.

Speaking on the theme, “Challenges and Prospects of Primary Health Care Development in Nigeria, the Akwa Ibom Context and What the Media Needs to Understand,’ Martin observed that the State Primary Health Care Development Agency which was established in 2018 by the Udom Emmanuel administration, was set to commence operations as all required were on ground already. He assured that the development will expand quality healthcare delivery to the ward level in the state.

His words: “Let me state here with invincible confidence that in Akwa Ibom State, the stage is now set for the full implementation of the salutary policy of PHCUOR (PRIMARY HEALTHCARE UNDER ONE ROOF) for the benefits of our people.” Asserting further, he said, ” The SPHCDA (State Primary HealthCare Development Agency), established in 2018 by His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel, has set the requisite policies and structures in place to achieve this. At the Local Government level, we set up the Local Government Health Authorities with the full complement of their Advisory Committees and Management Teams as required by the NPHCDA” he said.

In order to let the Primary Healthcare service delivery trickles down to the wards, he observed that moribund wards and village development committees have been reactivated, while capacities of primary healthcare personnel were being developed, alongside the “migration of primary health programmes and personnel from relevant MDAs and SPHCDA to make the state government’s efforts towards achieving the universal healthcare coverage a success.

To further make quality healthcare delivery in Akwa Ibom State an incontrovertibly norm, Dr. Martin Akpan noted that Akwa Ibom State indigenes will soon enjoy state-owned health insurance scheme, the bill, according to him, was already in the State House of Assembly for passage, adding that when passed into law, courtesy of the State governor, it will enable government subsidize primary healthcare services for the people.

Akpan, who bemoaned the lack of capacity to provide essential healthcare services, poor staffing, inadequate and obsolete equipment, dilapidated infrastructure and lack of essential drugs were listed some of the drawbacks of quality primary healthcare delivery. He advocated for adequate healthcare financing a panacea for success of the programme, pointing out that, “Health care financing rests on three major pillars: Revenue Generation/collection, pooling of resources and allocation/purchasing of health/resources/services. It aims to provide good health through greater access to health services while ensuring equity, efficiency, quality and sustainability. Sources of Health Care Financing vary from country to country. Generally, it is always a mix of funds from public, private and donor sources.”

He, however, charged media practitioners to be more proactive in reporting programmes and policies in the health sector and also hold accountable personnel placed with roles and responsibilities in the sector.

His remarks: “The media has a vital role to play in our renewed effort to revitalize and reposition the health sector for effective service delivery on a sustainable basis. This they can do in a multiplicity of ways including: Sensitizing the public on new health programmes, educating the people on common health issues, keeping health programme managers accountable and influencing policies of government, among others. Besides, they can also reflect and influence societal norms by serving as transmitters of cultural messages. It is also their professional duty to warn the citizenry of impending crisis including disease outbreaks and dangers of such behavioural practices as alcoholism, substance abuse etc. Advocacy to policy makers is another area that the media turf becomes handy.

The Nigerian Government has yet to see Health as a human right of every Nigerian citizen. That is why our health budget still remains abysmally low despite the Abuja Declaration in which African Heads of State pledged many years ago to set aside at least 15% of their countries’ annual budget as health sector appropriation. Because there is a strong link between health and economic development, the media must continue to advocate for increased funding to the health sector.”

Quest News 24

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