Bayelsa Government says it will give priority to the health sector in its efoorts towards improving the health and overall well-being of citizens.Gov. Douye Diri, stated this on Monday, in Yenagoa, at the opening of a three-day maiden Bayelsa Health Summit, with the theme: “Achieving Improved Health System Performance Through Strategic Planning and Stakeholder Engagement.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the event had in attendance former President Goodluck Jonathan, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, President, Commonwealth Medical Association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, among others.
Diri said his administration was embarking on critical and sustainable measures towards addressing the state’s health challenges from primary to tertiary levels.
He said a centre for disease control would be established within 16 months in the state, as part of plans to ensure outbreak of diseases were tackled head on.
He, however, expressed concern over some statistics from the 2018 Demographic and Health Systems Survey.
He noted that only about half of the population of pregnant women in the state received antenatal care, while the HIV/AIDS prevalence remained high in spite of the huge investments in the sub-sector.
According to him, the summit is key to unraveling the challenges and seeking ways of strengthening the health system, as well as foster collaboration with all stakeholders to enhance healthcare delivery.
He said: “We are working very hard to actualise our performance tracking plan.‘
“My administration is looking forward to concluding a framework for the development of a Bayelsa State 10-year health system improvement plan.
“My government will ensure that the Bayelsa Health Insurance Scheme, initiated by my predecessor, Sen. Seriake Dickson, enjoys robust support .
“This is as we strive to address issues of safe motherhood and reduction of infant and maternal mortality.
”Commending Enabulele, the keynote speaker, the governor said his administration would adopt his paper as a working document in the Ministry of Health.
He also thanked the Minister of Health for his choice of Bayelsa to launch the Emergency Medical Ambulance Services, to meet the health needs of the state.
Ehanire, in his remarks, lauded the state government for hosting the summit to examine health issues with the objective of deepening understanding and strengthening its health programmes.
He further highlighted adequate funding, political stability, training of personnel, consistent and sustained improvements in the health sector as key to quality service delivery in the sector.
Speaking at the event, Jonathan, commended the governor for his vision and commitment in revamping the health sector.Jonathan, who identified lack of health infrastructure as a major challenge in the country, stressed the need for public-private sector partnership towards building quality healthcare delivery.
“There is need for the private sector to partner with the government because we may have excellent manpower but lack equipment,” he said.He said the Federal Ministry of Health was working on a new programme to collaborate with states’ health insurance scheme towards providing a comprehensive healthcare for all citizens.
In his address, the Bayelsa Commissioner for Health, Dr. Pabara Igwele, said the health summit was meant to chart a course in addressing the myriad of challenges in the sector.
Igwele noted that the state government alone could not provide all the human and material resources required to deliver universal health coverage and sustainable development goals.
Also speaking, the World Health Organisation Country Representative, Dr. Walter Mulombo, expressed the organisation’s willingness to partner with the state government in addressing the health system gaps.Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekwazu, chairman, Bayelsa Traditional Rulers Council and King Alfred Diete-Spiff were among those that presented goodwill messages at the summit.