Healthcare reform has become a constant in every administration. It is self-evidently necessary and inevitable as it has always been on the agenda of successive government of which most times they seem completely unable to respond to it.
But the present administration in Rivers State led by Governor Nyesom Wike has envisioned a sustainable implementation of a redesigned process of quality healthcare delivery which has restored hope in the healthcare system as citizens can now access cheap and affordable Medicare.
The Government has adopted a system of healthcare delivery whose thrust is anchored on Primary Health Care services, provision of quality and standard health facilities, affordable health services, with the availability of well-qualified and motivated staff at all the health facilities in the state.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Theophilous Odagme, in nterview with The Authority, in his office in Port Harcourt, explained that the present administration in the state take serious the provision of health services to ensure proper service integration at all levels of health care establishments and to develop and implement policies and programmes to improve and maintain health quality services that is capable of providing effective, efficient and affordable healthcare delivery to vulnerable groups at government cost
The overall target in the health sector is to ensure proper service integration at all levels of health care establishments and to develop and implement policies and programmes to improve and maintain health quality services that is capable of providing effective, efficient and affordable healthcare delivery.
The state government has put in place defined factors that are essentials for the effective implementation of it comprehensive healthcare policy Dr Odagme while reaffirming the interest of the state government in healthcare said the state government has embarked on the rehabilitation of 16 General Hospitals in the State, as a move to reduce the mortality rate of the people and also reduce the burden on BMSH as it will serve only as referral centres.
He listed some of hospitals under rehabilitation to include the General Hospitals at Nchia, Okirika, Abonnema, Buguma, Isiokpo, Emohua, Bodo, Terabo, Abua, Okuzi, Taaban, Ngo, Opobo, Neuropsychiatric Hospital Rumuigbo, Cottage Hospital Ebere and the total rebuilding of Omoku General Hospital.
Apart from the rehabilitations of the hospitals, the Commissioner disclosed that the government is solely behind the passage of the Health Insurance Bill into law, noting that for the past one year more attention have been given to the health sector for the well being of Rivers people.
According to the commissioner, “Am sure you are aware that the General hospitals were completely dilapidated in the state but right now, 13 of them are been renovated and are at different levels of renovation round the state.
He said, “We are working on the health insurance bill in the state. In BMSH, we have handed over the reconstruction of the burnt quarters on Tuesday and various other activities going are going on..
“We have proposals in 2017 the budget that will all be carried on to ensure that health care delivery in Rivers State get a new look and that our people in the state feels and enjoy health care delivery.” He said.
The said both the Cottage and General Hospitals in the State have been in the state of disrepair, “but in the month of November last year, funds were released for commencement of renovation work, following which the hospitals will be fully equipped”
According to him after the renovation, the hospitals will be re-equipped and upgraded. “These are products of several years of neglect and government is doing what should be done in putting those places back, equipping them and where there is need for extra manpower across the health sector that will be done.”
But beyond the general hospitals, he said there are a number of health centres that have completed and that within available resources the health centres will be equipped with additional manpower.
“Two months ago, there is a block in BMSH we call ‘the surgical block’. That was an abandoned project for years, it has been completed. its a story building with 91 bedded wards and as soon as the equipments arrive, it will be put into use.” He said.
According to Dr Odagme the state government is in partnership with other international Health Institutions to ensuring there is good health care delivery in the state.
“If you go to the lab, we have the Polymeric Exchange Reaction machine that helps in making definite diagnosis for HIV cases, especially in new born. Before now we used to send samples outside the state. It was installed last year, working with the Family Health International (FHI) 360, a partner working with the state ministry of health in tackling HIV/AIDS.”
He said the BMSH antenatal ward was also reconstructed by the present administration in the last year.
Currently the state government is doing stakeholder engagement in the Health Insurance Bill and look forward to see it passed into law.
The idea is to ensure that every stakeholder in the state buy into the health insurance policy which enable see experience a functional health insurance scheme including those living in the rural areas.
On the issues of the recent strike action embarked upon by Resident Doctor in the state, the commissioner Government is still deliberating on the issue presented by the doctors, which bothers on consolidation of medical salary structure, house officers salary and residency training.
Narrating the incident that led to the strike the commissioner said the a group of doctors who work with the State government under the umbrella of the National Association of General Medical and Dental Practitioners, sent a letter to His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, giving a 21 day ultimatum on various issues.
He assured that the State Government is already relating with the relevant leadership in the association with the hope of finding a lasting solution to their problems.