Lagos intensifies efforts to revitalise primary health centres

Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary Health Care, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, addressing health workers at one of the Primary Health Care (PHC) centres

Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary Health Care, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, addressing health workers at one of the Primary Health Care (PHC) centres

• Onanuga charges health workers on attitude, commitment to duties

The Lagos State Government has reiterated its commitment to improve the quality of service delivery at its Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) across the State even as it urged health workers to discharge their duties conscientiously to ensure a quality of care and healthy environment.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary Health Care, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, told journalists that government is not unmindful of the challenges facing PHC system. He however revealed that the present administration is very passionate and eager to effect major and lasting transformations that will make access to healthcare facilities at the grassroots hassle free.

Onanuga added that primary health care is the bedrock of any health care system stressing that it is because the challenges confronting this level of health care system is not adequately addressed that is why the secondary and tertiary levels of care are overwhelmed.

Onanuga noted that though the primary health care system is the responsibility of the local government, it is imperative for the state government to intervene in the challenges confronting this system of health care delivery because of the pivotal role of primary health care in the overall health care delivery system.

He highlighted the key areas that Government will beam its searchlight on to include: infrastructural upgrade, data management, operational cost, power supply, water supply, drug supply, sewage management, staffing, immunization programmes, bridging communication gap between the ministry of health, local government and primary healthcare board, facility management and monitoring, insurance scheme amongst others. He stated that these are issues that have constituted problems for the sector and they must be addressed.

The special adviser noted that there must be more synergy between the ministry of health and the local government to have a robust and viable service delivery at the PHCs as it would only amount to an exercise in futility if the efforts and inputs of the Local Government are not incorporated into the scheme of things.

Onanuga said: “We cannot run the PHC from the Ministry, we need full support of the Local Government to make Institutions work, so we need to sit and find out what are the challenges and work in partnership to have a successful PHC.”

Onanuga disclosed that the State passed a law on Health Insurance Scheme last year June and will soon commence its operation; he however stated that the primary healthcare system is key to successful implementation of the health insurance scheme stressing that this is why government is putting everything in place to ensure its successful and smooth running.

“A law was passed last year June on the Lagos State Health Insurance Scheme. It can’t be operated without the primary health care system; all hands should therefore be on deck to ensure its success as other States are already waiting to see how we will do it,” he remarked.

Onanuga emphasised the importance of monitoring health facilities, which is to engender effective delivery. He stated that his office is making unscheduled visits to PHC centres across the state to see things the way they are.

Onanuga noted that the decision not to inform the facilities of proposed visits is deliberate. “We don’t want window-dressing by the Managements, and we believe this will put the health officers on their toes while also ensuring good use of Government facilities,” he explained.

He said the administration of Akinwunmi Ambode is poised to change the face of the healthcare centres in line with his mandate to ensure qualitative healthcare for the populace. He charged sole administrators and managers of Local Government Areas (LGAs)/Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the State to take the PHCs as their babies which must be seen to survive. He further promised that all the ingredients needed to make the PHCs function well shall be provided.

“We implore you to support the government because His Excellency is extremely passionate about the success of the PHC due to its closeness to the grassroots people,” Onanuga stated.

In an apparent reaction to the recent spate of criticisms of the attitudes and commitments of some PHC workers in Lagos State, Onanuga warned that henceforth any health workers whose attitude and commitment to duties negates the attainment of policy thrust of the State government’s delivery of qualitative and affordable healthcare services to the people will be visited with the boot.

The Lagos State Primary Health Care (PHC) Board was established through the Lagos State Health Sector Reform Law 2006 to develop Primary Health Care to a level where services will be accessible, acceptable and affordable to the people of the State.

Thus, to bring health closer to our citizens, the State Government through the Office of the Special Adviser on Primary Health Care and the Primary Health Care Board is currently accelerating momentum to scale up the revitalization of government’s PHC centres in terms of infrastructure upgrade and human resources for health required for this level of care. Outreach programmes are also being re-energized and sustained to address current gaps in the delivery of quality health services in under-served areas.

To bring communities closer to health and increase consumer demand for health services, existing partnerships with community-based enablers and promoters, ward health development committees and local government health authorities are also being strengthened.

In this article:
Dr. Olufemi Onanuga
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