By Mercy Azuka, Asaba
Incumbent Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, is boasting of his administration’s success in healthcare delivery since inception in 2015, saying he runs an all-inclusive free healthcare programme as against that of his predecessor, Emmanuel Udughan, which he said was limited to a segment of Deltans.
Okowa made the boast following Uduaghan’s allegation that the Okowa-led administration “is on a vindictive mission to bulldoze his legacies as governor of the state for eight years”.
The ex-governor, who made the allegation during his appearance in a television program, had highlighted various areas where his legacies as a governor of the state were allegddly being ‘bulldozed’ including the health sector.
But Okowa, reacting through the commissioner for information, Patrick Ukah, told newsmen in Asaba, that his predecessor’s free healthcare programme had a budget of about N700 million yearly providing free healthcare facility in urban cities and secondary health facilities only. No primary healthcare facility (PHC) in rural areas where the real people that needed the free healthcare the most was involved in the programme, he said.
He said that under Uduaghan, no proper records of people that actually received the free healthcare service was kept, and that the free healthcare service was limited and had no provision for the referral of serious cases.
According to him, the Okowa’s administration now registers all the people and has proper records of those that receive the service. “It has been extended to rural communities PHCs where the real poor people that need it reside”, he added.
He explained that “The service has been expanded to ensure all children under five years and pregnant women in Delta State receive full healthcare services with referral for serious cases, drugs with materials required to provide service are available in these facilities all the time under the Contributory Health Scheme, free for all children under five years and pregnant women and paid for by the government of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa”
In October last year, while presenting the 2018 budget to the state house of assembly, Okowa had noted that “in fulfillment of our pledge to deliver accessible, affordable and qualitative healthcare, the Delta State Contributory Health Commission was established in 2016. With just N7,000 as premium, the health insurance scheme is already providing pre-paid health services to 112,169 registered enrollees.”
“The scheme is currently functional in 63 secondary healthcare centres while 97 primary healthcare facilities in the state have been designated to commence provision of services under the scheme”, he said.
He had further explained that the free maternal and the free under-five healthcare programmes that were initiated by the previous administration in 2007 and 2010 respectively, are still being implemented.
“In January 2017, the financing of these programmes was taken over by the Delta State Contributory health Commission. As at July 2017. Total enrolment of these categories of people in the scheme stood at 71,350 (under 5 – 44,446; maternal – 26,905).
He said registration of civil servants under the scheme had commenced and currently in progress, pointing out that sustaining the free maternal and the free under-five healthcare programmes has been critical in ensuring that the maternal mortality ratio and under-five mortality in the state remain the lowest in the country.
Ukah, while speaking, Tuesday, challenged Gov Okowa’s predecessor to tell the world about the said legacy projects he claimed to have left behind which the Okowa’s administration has destroyed.
Uduaghan had been a strong chieftain of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state and had visibly been seen backing the Okowa’s administration since he left office in 2015 having served for eight years as governor.
He however dumped the PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC) last week ahead of 2019 general elections wherein he is said be eyeing the Delta South Senatorial seat.