By Ignatius Okorocha
Worried by the currently comatose state of the Nation’s Primary Health care scheme , Senate, yesterday, in plenary, urged the Federal government to revive the scheme by increasing the budgetary allocation for management of primary health care.
The Upper chamber made the resolution, following a motion entitled, “the need for increased funding to primary health care”, sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central), and co-sponsored by 106 other senators.
It also urged the Federal Ministry of Health to create awareness on the benefits of health and life insurance.
The Red chamber further directed the Ministry of Employment to put policies in place to ensure that every employer of Labour has insurance package for employees.
The apex legislative chamber also directed the Ministry of Health to ensure that government-backed Health Insurance Scheme was accessible.
It also urged the Ministry of Health at federal and state levels to encourage medical technological innovation in primary health facilities.
Leading debate on the motion, Tinubu noted that primary health care is a grassroots, community based initiative that provides health care services to communities.
She argued that it was universally accepted that access to health care for all was only possible through prevalence and accessibility of Primary Health Care.
According to her, the Primary Health Care in Nigeria was adopted in 1988 by the National Health Policy to provide promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services.
The lawmaker expressed concerns that a lot of the problems in Nigeria’s Health Sector could be traced to low performance of the Primary Health Care facilities.
Tinubu pointed out that, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Primary Health Care would meet 80 -90% of a person’s health needs over the course of their life.
She further expressed worries that the World Bank Service Delivery Indicators Survey showed that though available, performance of the Primary Health Care was hampered by lack of financial resources, infrastructure deficit, insufficiency/lack of drugs, equipment and vaccines, among other encumbrances.
The politician drew the attention of the Senate, to an information in a health journal, published by Frontiers in Public Health, which claimed that only about 20% of the thirty thousand (30,000) Primary Health Care Centres in Nigeria were working, with most of them lacking capacity to provide essential health services;
Tinubu lamented that due to the failure of Primary Health Care and the belief that it was for lower-income earners, there had been an influx of patients to Secondary and Tertiary Health Care Facilities in the country, which had in turn, exposed this level of health care system to undue pressure.
All the senators who contributed, supported the motion and commended Senator Tinubu for coming up with the initiative, urging that all relevant stakeholders in the country should join hands and work towards proper funding of the Primary health care, for accessible, affordable and efficient service delivery to Nigerians.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, stressed the importance of the primary health care to Nigerians particularly the rural dwellers, noting that the last assembly acknowledged this by appropriating 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the health centre.
He however, urged that there should be prudence, transparency, probity and accountability in the way and manner the resources were deployed, so that the purpose of providing additional funds to the health sector would be actualised.
His word: “I want to commend all of us for our various interventions and support for this very important motion by Senator Oluremi Tinubu. I know that in the Eight National Assembly, we passed additional funding for the health centre; one percent of the consolidated revenue fund. That has brought about N60 billion into the health sector.
“However, I believe that the health centre needs more. But it is also important that there is prudence, transparency, probity and accountability in the way and manner the resources are deployed.
“The primary health centres are at the grassroots where our constituents ought to benefit from the social funding of the centre. When our standing committee on health is reconstituted, it is something we have to oversight very well. We must ensure that everything is streamlined”.