By Kemi Olatunde
It is not a bad idea to say that the health of residents of Ondo State is the pride of the state and that is why it will not be out f place to give kudos to our “Mr talk and do” governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu who has again launched another package for people to access health at the expense of government purse.
Residents especially pregnant women, under five children and those in the vulnerable group are now relieved of financial stress which should ordinarily be a burden to them when the need arise to access health care services in the state.
In the present Ondo State, a visit to our health facilities show that it is festival of birth all over the places as our pregnant women pay no amount of money to have their babies delivered irrespective of their condition. No wonder, some beneficiaries of the governor’s first free health package known as Abiyamo Maternal and Child Health Insurance Scheme(AMCHIS) flooded the venue of the flag off of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund Programme(BHCPFP) last Monday in Akure alongside their babies to express their gratitude to the performing governor for enabling them benefit directly from his programmes.
It would be recalled that the governor launched the pilot package of the Ondo State Contributory Health Commission; AMCHIS on December 3, 2019 and as at December 31, 2020, over 14,000 people have benefitted from it through registration out of which 11,207 pregnant women have been issued Kaadi Igbeayo at no cost to access health care under the scheme.
The health sector has sure received a boost with AMCHIS in place, no wonder 3,183 deliveries have been recorded including 795 Caesarean Sections. It was gathered that among the deliveries, there were 86 set of twins, 3 set of triplets and a set of quadruplet.
This initiative no doubt, has been a significant health palliative to beneficiaries especially in this period of COVID-19 pandemic which has been ravaging the world.
The beneficiaries of the scheme can be found in nooks and crannies of the state. According to Mrs Feyi Omotunde, a petty trader, while speaking with The Hope in Akure, the scheme is a wonderful one and it is real.
”I was among one of the happy people in the state when I heard about the scheme. I got married not quite long and my husband and I have been struggling to survive.
”The scheme made it possible for me to deliver my baby boy without paying a dime. The money we saved for my delivery is now being used for the upkeep of the baby. The governor has done well with the scheme in place.”
Some other beneficiaries who witnessed the event with their babies in large number, expressed gratitude to God for giving the governor the grace to impact the lives of people of the state especially women.
Last Monday, the governor added another feather to his cap as he launched the package. According to findings, the Federal Government (FG) has taken a detour from its previous operational approach to healthcare intervention programmes. BHCPFP will be implemented using not just the primary healthcare system as provider gateway but the health insurance gateway as the financing mechanism.
By the provisions of the 2014 National Health Act (as amended), BHCPFP is to be administered such that the State Contributory Health Commission implements the NHIS gateway of the programme with 50 percent of the fund, Ondo State Primary Health Care Development Agency drives the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency with 45 percent of the fund while the remaining five percent will be for emergency/NCDC gateway.
With the package in place, an estimated 20,000 beneficiaries are expected to be enrolled across the 18 local government areas of the state and they will be drawn from the National social register and through the state sponsored means of targeting the poor and vulnerable.
Launching the package, the governor explained that the intervention package has been put in place to ease the burden of cost of accessing health care.
He noted that his government was determined to do things differently by ensuring that there is improvement in the health sector hence, the need to increase the number of Mother and Child Hospitals in the state to nine including the newly constructed one in Ifon.
While speaking on the importance of AMCHIS, he stated that it is crucial to have the scheme in place in order to ensure that both pregnant women and under five children are well taken care of in terms of qualitative health care delivery.
His words: “We knew what it cost to have a ceasarean section or normal delivery. Our under five children suffer some diseases which are peculiar to them. Also, the special interest group must be taken care of and the only way to ensure that they pay no kobo for health care service is through the scheme.”
Describing BHCPFP as an equity healthcare in which vulnerable beneficiaries will not pay for covered healthcare services, the governor hinted that the Federal Government (FG) in deference to the National health Act 2014 (as amended) has set aside I percent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the federation to fund the programme on yearly basis and added that the state government has paid the sum of N100 million as its commitment fee.
Speaking further he said: “We are glad to report that our administration has for almost four years strengthened the Primary Healthcare system of our dear state to enhance its ability to provide the primary health care services of the BHCFP.
“To this end, 203 primary healthcare facilities across the 18 local government areas have been identified, assessed and offered provisional accreditation to act as primary providers of the programme.
“Within the limits of available resources, we have also supported the specialists and General Hospitals in the state to be able to act as referral centres for the 203 primary health care facilities under the BHCPFP.”
While expressing appreciation to FG for its development in the primary health care delivery, he called on residents to take advantage of the programme.
In his goodwill message, representative of the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Dr Adebisi noted that the state has the foundation to support the programme and added that in no distance time, Ondo state will achieve universal health coverage.
Head, Akure field office, UNICEF, Dr Tushar Rane who described BHCPFP as a complete package expressed the organisation’s readiness to provide technical support for it.
Speaking earlier, General Manager, Ondo State Contributory Health Commission, Dr Abiodun Oyeneyin hinted that with the monthly payment of capitation by the commission to the 203 PHC facilities, the health insurance gateway will strengthen the health care system.
While calling for support from stakeholders, he revealed that AMCHIS has recorded 3,183 deliveries including 795 caesarean sections saying “among the deliveries, we have 86 sets of twins, 3 sets of triplets and a set of quadruplet.”
Speaking with The Hope, Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Hospitals’ Management Board (HMB), Dr Niran Ikuomola lauded the programme and added that it will help the less privileged have access to qualitative health care.
Consultant to the governor on health, Dr Funso Ani thanked Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for his numerous work in the health sector which according to him has given the sector a facelift.
According to him, BHCPFP is expected to promote better services and patronage and added that it will also go a long way in impacting the socio economic situation of the state.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr Dipo Durojaye while speaking at the event assured that the ministry will put in place necessary measures to ensure that universal health coverage becomes a success story in the state.