Kaduna State Health Sector Gets Bill Gates, UK Supports

Kaduna, Health Care, MOU The Kaduna State health sector on Friday received a boost, as the government signs an agreement with the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and ‘Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation.

The State government is optimistic that the agreement will strengthen primary Healthcare in rural areas, to address the constant increase in mortality rates especially of mothers and children.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai signed the Memorandum Of understanding on behalf of the Kaduna State government, while the UK Minister of State for International Development, Mr James Wharton, signed on behalf of the UK government.

Technical And Financial Assistance

El-Rufai said the agreement underscored his administration’s commitment to improving access to affordable and qualitative healthcare services to the people as well as reducing maternal and infant mortality rates in the state.

Due to poor distribution of facilities across the state, to reduce out-of-pocket expenditures on health, there has been limited access as well as low citizen demand for healthcare services.

With the Health Centres the state government is looking to strengthen Primary Health Care systems, improve service delivery and reduce financial barriers.

The tripartite agreement will therefore support Kaduna State’s efforts to increase and sustain effective, equitable coverage of essential health services.

The content of the MOU as presented by the state Commissioner For Health read: “While Kaduna State government will show commitment in implementing the primary healthcare under one roof, DFID and Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, will provide both technical and financial assistance under the MOU”.

Support Through Bilateral Relations

Mr Wharton said that as part of the bilateral relations between Nigeria and the UK, his country’s government would commit £500 million annually for execution of people-oriented projects in Nigeria.

He also announced that the United Kingdom government would continue to partner with states that had a genuine commitment to boosting their healthcare systems.

The Director of Community Health Services at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Emmanuel Odu, expressed optimism that the MOU would strengthen primary health care programmes in the state.

He also commended the commitment and support of Kaduna State government for providing budgetary allocation for the reduction of maternal and infant mortality in Nigeria.

Effective primary care interventions and the health sector generally, in Nigeria are currently at low standards.

Issues such as poor management of staff, allocation of funds, resources and a general lack of accountability have been prominent in the sector.

The plan to strengthen the primary healthcare system in Kaduna state is therefore expected to enable increased coverage of essential quality health services to the people, especially those in rural communities who presently have no access to basic healthcare services.

FG Vows To Meet All MDGs

With less than 1,000 days to the 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and maternal mortality rate figure at 350 per 100,000 live births, the Federal Government has restated its promise to achieve all the goals in Nigeria.

The Minister of Health; Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, claimed that Nigeria has succeeded in achieving goals four, five and six which relates to health.

The goals are promoting gender equality and empowering women, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases respectively.

Also speaking, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs; Dr Precious Gbeneol expressed confidence that remarkable progress has been made and that government is making efforts to hit the milestone.

According to Dr Gbeneol, top on the list of achievements for Nigeria is the net attendance levels for basic education which she says, has increased over time.

She further claims that the Federal Government is working hard to ensure that it hits the 100 per cent mark by 2015.

The MDGs boss also said Nigeria has recorded progress in its bid to reduce maternal mortality with the country’s maternal mortality rate figure now at 350 down from 1000 per 100,000 live births in 1990 and 545 in 2008.

She however agrees that Nigeria is still 28.6 per cent away from the 2015 target.

The Minister of Health lists the decline in HIV prevalence rate from as high as 5.8 to 4.1 in 2012 and the increase in the proportion of under-5 children sleeping under insecticide treated nets from 2.2 per cent in 2003 to 34.6 per cent in 2012 as confirmed by MDGs survey of 2012.

In the area of poverty eradication the Federal Government says it has appropriated the sum of N10 billion to assist poor households across the country.

But the sentiments claimed by the government officials on the nation’s progress in achieving the goals is not shared by all, as the World Health Organization (WHO) recently stated that Nigeria can meet the targets with a strict adherence to the mechanisms that have been put in place for successful implementation.

Experts advocate the need for Nigeria to look beyond the targeted date of 2015 by consolidating on the gains of the MDGs and evolve new developmental initiatives for the welfare of Nigerians.

The year 2015 is the deadline for the realization of the MDGs set by the United Nations in the year 2000 with about 189 countries including Nigeria being signatories to achieving the goals which are geared towards reducing extreme poverty among other priorities.

National Health Bill passes second reading

The bill which will regulate, develop and manage the country’s National Health System scaled through second reading on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday and it was subsequently referred to the Committee on Health for further legislative work.

Disturbed by the decline in the health care delivery system in the country, the Senate is set to pass a bill for an Act to provide a framework for the regulation, development and management of a National Health System and set standards for rendering health services in the country to sanitize the health sector.

In his lead debate, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Health and sponsor of the bill, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa said the health industry has been left unregulated without norms and standards.

He added that the bill when passed will improve the quality of lives of the citizens.

The bill enjoyed the support of majority of lawmakers as other lawmakers that joined the debate admitted that inadequate health system infrastructure, poor service delivery and lack of skills are some of the problems confronting Nigeria’s health care sector.

With maternal mortality rate of 545 per 100,000 live births, an under five mortality rate that is one of the worst in the world, and Nigeria having the fourth highest tuberculosis burden in the world, the bill to regulate the country’s health industry is long overdue.