Government plans to enforce use of primary healthcare centres

Prof. Isaac Adewole

Prof. Isaac Adewole

Pledges support for private hospital operators

The Federal Government is working on enforcing the use of the nation’s primary health care centres as a deliberate effort to bring healthcare close to the people and free up the general hospital, teaching hospitals and related facilities.

This will however, be effective after government has upgraded the centres into providers of world class primary health care, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said.

According to the minister, a major offshoot of this would be an efficient referral system that ensures that the primary healthcare centres and the secondary and tertiary hospitals are put to use to attend to cases within the professional classification of each.

Prof. Adewole, who spoke in an interview with The Guardian, noted: “We have articulated a vision to achieve Universal Health Coverage. To attain this, we aim to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of our health system to the needs of citizens. The approach will increase access to healthcare services, reduce exposure of Nigerian citizens to financial catastrophe and ensure citizens satisfaction with health care received. This vision is also in line with the targets set by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

“Over the next two years, we will rapidly scale up the functionality of at least one primary healthcare facility per ward in Nigeria and provide the necessary inputs to increase their service readiness. This would sum up to 10,000 primary healthcare facilities in the country.”

Meanwhile, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has pledged to provide support to private hospital operators willing to establish primary healthcare facilities country.

Acting Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Olufemi Akingbade, in an interview stressed that the scheme is being repositioned.

He said: “For us in NHIS, we are out to make sure that service delivery this year henceforth is something that is paramount to us. This is because without service delivery, we will find out that whether we talk from now to tomorrow and whether we generate all the demands that need to generate and create all the facilities that need to be created and if we do not make sure that the people who these places are designed for are getting access and are getting qualitative services, there is going to be a problem.

“We have a lot of plans for the New Year and we want to carry everybody along.”

“We are not building new PHCs. We already have over 30,000 PHCs in the country. What we are doing is an intervention to make sure that at least 10,000 of them work in the first one year. When these health facilities work, it will build the confidence of the enrollees to know that if I need health care services, the farthest I can go will be within my ward or just few kilometres away from where I live.

“If you actually look at the health care system in the country as it is now, everyone wants to go for health care at the National Hospital or from the big hospitals and nobody wants to patronise the PHCs.

“Our tertiary healthcare centres are over stretched. We have bombarded them with health care services that even the health care resources at that level cannot cope with the crowd that is coming to them”, Akingbade further said.

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