*Gov Diri Unfolds New Policies
Bayelsa State government has said it would give priority to the health sector as part of the initiative to improve the overall well-being of citizens of the state.
Governor 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 well-attended event had in attendance former President Goodluck Jonathan, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, President, Commonwealth Medical Association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele among other stakeholders.
Governor Diri said his administration was embarking on critical and sustainable measures toward addressing the challenges of the primary to tertiary health institutions in the state.
In a press release by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, the governor said a centre for disease control would be established in the state within 16 months as part of policies being unfolded in the sector.
He expressed concern about some statistics from the 2018 Demographic and Health Systems Survey, which indicated that only about half of the population of pregnant women in the state received antenatal care while the prevalence of HIV/AIDS remained high against the backdrop of substantial investments made in the sector.
According to Senator Diri, 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, Senator Seriake Dickson, enjoys robust support as we strive to address issues of safe motherhood and reduction of infant and maternal mortality.”
Commending the keynote speaker, Dr. Enabulele, 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.Also speaking, former President Jonathan commended the governor for his vision and commitment in revamping the health sector.
Dr. 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.
The Minister of Health, Dr. 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 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.
Dr. Igwele noted that the state government alone cannot provide all the human and material resources required to deliver universal health coverage and sustainable development goals.
In his lecture, Dr. Enabulele 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.
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, King Alfred Diete-Spiff as well as Chief Medical Director, Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Dr Dimie Ogoina, were among those who presented goodwill messages at the summit.