Story by Prisca Briggs: PORT HARCOURT, NIGERIA
The Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Rivers state chapter has called on the government of Rivers State and Nigeria at large to pay more attention to the health sector.
This took place in her 58th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference held in Rivers State from the 22nd-28th July 2018. This call is as a result of the poor attitude towards Health Delivery and it’s accompanied challenges after a rigorous situational analysis exercise.
In a press briefing with journalists, the chairman of the association Dr Datonye Alasia highlighted the key aspects of the annual conference, stating that the standard of health delivery in Rivers State is a little below expectation owing to numerous challenges facing the health system ranging from health care financing, manpower, environmental pollution, proper management etc.
He however acknowledge that there are lots of positive achievements in the last two years like infrastructural development, primary, secondary and tertiary health care facilities, state teaching hospital, zonal hospital being improved and a commitment to improve residents training but he believes that more can be done.
Dr Datonye advocated for health financing which he considers key to the health sector. “Health financing is key as we may have heard, and the essence of health financing is to help us achieve universal health coverage, to ensure that every citizen can assess health care service that they need and at the point of care there should be no limitations” he said
The Chairman therefore thanked the government for commencing the Rivers State contributory health protection program for all residents in the state, for funding it and appropriating 2% of its total budget for 2018 for that purpose but he still stated that human resource for health is faced with many challenges which shouldn’t be since human resource for health is one of the eighth pillars for health system.
“doctors are not enough, nurses and dental therapists are need. Currently we are facing a ratio of one doctor to three thousand citizens and that’s poor ”
Other key event of the annual meeting was the Town-Hall meeting. A panel discussion with panelists like Hon. (Mrs.) Betty Apiafi, leader of the Rivers State Caucus, Federal House of Representatives, Chairman Health Institution. Dr George Opuda, Special Advisor to the Rivers State Governor on Primary Health Care, Dr Friday E. Aaron, Chief Medical Director Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr Nonye Enyindah, former commissioner of health, Rivers state, member Rivers State Hospitals Management Board.
The panel discussion was centered on the theme Confronting Challenges in Universal Health Coverage and Service Delivery was moderated by Dr Kenneth Okagua.
In an interview with IFN TV, Dr George Opuda stated that funding of the health system is enormous but the government is doing everything to improve on infrastructure which takes care of the manpower, it may not be optimal but the entire health care system will be improved.
Speaking to newsmen Dr (Mrs.) Betty said that NMA is ready to work with the House of Assembly to make sure that the resident bill is accepted and passed. A lot more doctors will be trained, also the health act which was passed in the last administration has been energized with the 2018 budget this will take care of the Universal Coverage.
The Honourable Commissioner for Health Rivers State, Prof Princewill Chike said “Jingles have already commenced to inform the masses the implications of soot, and how it is destroying the Rivers environment. Hence they should stop using illegal fuel and kerosene and stop patronizing oil bunkers. According to him, “It is risky and dangerous. I am using this medium to tell the security agencies to be vigilant and watchful because this bunkering is more of political than physical, and the necessary equipment have been imported to control soot.”