By Chijioke Okoronkwo, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of three more orthopaedic hospitals across the country.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this on Wednesday at the official inauguration of the Primary Health Care (PHC) Leadership Challenge at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.
The event was organised by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), in partnership with some development partners.
Ehanire said: “The president has approved three more national orthopaedic hospitals; one per geo-political zone.
“North-East has one; the North-Central has one and the South-South has one; in Benin, Jos and Jalingo respectively.’’
The Country Director, Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation, Jeremie Zoungrana, said that the PHC Challenge Fund represented a unique opportunity to motivate and publicly recognise its ownership and leadership at the subnational level.
He said that the PHC health indicators would be tracked to support the NGF, build governor-level accountability, improve performance management and enhance investments in critical areas of PHC.
“The PHC Challenge Fund will also leverage other BMGF investments that focus on improving state-level data ownership, analysis, quality and use,” he said.
The Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, said that N471.9 billion had so far been disbursed by the Federal government as grants to states, under the 1.5-billion-dollar World Bank-assisted States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme.
Ahmed said that it was gratifying to note that beyond benefitting from the grants, all the 36 states in the federation had fully domesticated the fiscal reforms in their public financial management system.
In his speech, the Chairman of NGF, Gov. Kayode Fayemi, said that the event buttressed the commitment of the governors to building a resilient Primary Health Care System.
He said that the Primary Health Care (PHC) Leadership Challenge aimed to address the bottlenecks in the system, as it strove to build a robust public health care system.
“As part of our enduring partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates and Aliko Dangote Foundations, we convened a roundtable on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13 in Seattle, U.S.A., to reflect on the state governments’ development agenda for immunisation, PHC and human capital development.
“This culminated in the Seattle Declaration, which restates the commitments of the NGF to strengthen leadership and accountability for the PHC system at the state level,” he said.
According to him, evidence has shown that PHC has the potential to expand attainment of Universal Health Coverage to as much as 80 per cent of the population.
“On our part, the agenda the Forum representing the 36 states of the Federation has taken up the challenge, as we have done in the past with polio eradication. And we’re ready to do it again for primary health care system strengthening, especially given our recent experience with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Fayemi thanked the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation, UNICEF, the Nigerian National Primary Health Care Development Agency, and the NGF Secretariat for putting together the challenge.
In the statement of declaration, Fayemi said that following the induction to the Seattle Declaration by the 36 state governors in November 2019, the NGF affirmed its commitment to strengthening the primary health care system in the country.
“We, therefore, adopt and confirm our commitment in line with the Seattle Declaration, as outlined below.
“Improving the governance of the primary health care system as the sub-national level by fully implementing the primary health care under one-roof policy, and providing active leadership for primary health care through regular engagement with relevant PHC stakeholders, and making quarterly PHC performance review at the State Executive Council meetings
“To promote progressive increase in primary health care funding by ensuring efficient budgeting that is aligned to annual operational plans, promptly releasing approved budget to the state primary health care board, and primary health care facilities and ensuring that there is a mechanism in place for basic health care provision, fund implementation and oversight at the state and facility levels.
“Recruit requisite health workforce to ensure that all primary health care facilities have the minimum staffing requirements appropriate for their level, in line with the state’s minimum service package.
“Institute a culture of use of evidence for decision making, by ensuring that the data quality across all primary health care facilities is progressively improved.
“Develop a state-led local government area level PHC Leadership Challenge for local government area chairmen, for sustainability and strengthening the commitment of the local government area chairmen to primary health care delivery,” he said.