Okowa says Nigeria can rely less on foreign donors’ funds for healthcare if NHA is on

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By Kasarachi Azuka/Asaba

The National Health Act (NHA) would refresh Nigeria’s health sector funding if implemented, so says a medical doctor and politician, Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta State.

Okowa spoke during the flag-off of 2018 Measles Vaccination Campaign at Oleh, Isoko South local government area of Delta State. 

The governor appealed to the FG to implement the National Health Act that was signed into law since December, 2014. He said a clause in that Act provides for what we call the Basic Health Care Fund.

He said “As at today, we are depending more and more on our development partners to provide money for vaccines generally and I know that there has been a lot of caution and warning that the funds available are dwindling and Nigeria needs to begin to make arrangements for its own vaccines purchase.”

He continued, “The Basic Health-care Fund which is at least one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government is supposed to have counterpart funding from states and local governments to be administered partially by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency and also by the state through the state Primary Healthcare Development Agency and Local Government Health Authority.”

“We need to activate that particular clause so that we can make provisions for vaccines and also have the opportunity to train and retrain our health workers. It is well thought out and I feel very passionate about it because, while I was in the senate, I drove that bill to success and I feel pained that we have not still activated that clause”, he recalled.

He expressed, “It is my hope that in the cause of this year, 2018, we will activate that clause and also put pressure on different states and local governments to provide the counterpart fund because, we must continue to plan for the future of our children.”

“Yes, it is important that we are supported, but, we cannot continue to rely completely on the support we get from outside the country,” he emphasized.

The governor asserted that “the health of all Deltans including vulnerable groups such as children, aged under five, pregnant women and widows, is very important to the Delta State Government and as such, policies and programmes that impact positively on the health and wellbeing of residents of the state are formulated and implemented based on our commitment to ensure that our people should be healthy at all times.”

He described measles as a critical childhood disease which could cause blindness, deafness and death and urged all stakeholders including influential community groups, traditional, opinion and religious leader, to collaborate in an efficient manner to children from measles and other childhood diseases.