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Implement National Health Act To Curb Maternal Mortality, Okowa Tells FG

Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa

  • Fintiri inaugurates Asaba Specialist Hospital

Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has urged the Federal Government to ensure the full implementation of the National Health Act in order to effectively check the high rate of maternal and neonatal mortality.

The governor, at the inauguration of the 220-bed Asaba Specialist Hospital yesterday in Asaba by his Adamawa State counterpart, Hon. Ahmadu Fintiri, also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for operationalising the National Health Act.

Okowa stated that the law was not being implemented fully, contrary to the full content and letters of the Act as passed by the National Assembly.

He added that when fully operationalised, half of the funds would be utilised in providing free treatment to the vulnerable group thereby reducing prevailing high maternal and neonatal mortality figures, which has become an embarrassment to the country.

He said that his administration had, in 2017, operationalised its Contributory Health Commission Law

and realising that most of our women are unable to pay, we decided that we will pay the premium for all pregnant women and children under the age of five years.

This we have been doing in the last four and half years and we are aware of the impact it has made in society.

I believe that it is something doable in the entire country because when the National Health Act is fully operationalised, many children will be able to access free healthcare.

I call on the federal government to ensure that all fund as contained in the National Health Act is fully released and 50 per cent will go to the vulnerable, which includes the pregnant women and children under five years,

Okowa said.

However, the governor stated that part of the Asaba Specialist Hospital was operating under a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) arrangement to endure efficient service delivery.

Okowa said: “Apart from being a big hospital, we are also in partnership with the private sector in parts of the operations of this hospital.

This will enable us to offer services that the government may not efficiently run directly. That is why the radiology unit of this hospital has been outsourced.

Today, we have a 125-slide CT-Scan, a digital fluoroscopy X-ray and 4D ultrasound, all functional in this hospital. It also has its own oxygen-generating plant that is functional and reticulated to all the wards in the hospital.

Beyond the 220 beds, a segment of the hospital was actually given to the 05 Initiative, an initiative of the first lady of the state. She mobilised private sector funds to equip the centre.

As of today, it is only one centre in Lagos that can truly boast of the facilities that we have in the sickle cell centre here.

We have several consultants in different fields and we are still looking for more consultants so that we do not need to transfer any patient out of here on referral.

Inaugurating the hospital, Fintiri, who made a strong case for constitutional review, commended Okowa for demonstrating great leadership traits, which culminated in numerous projects being inaugurated in the state.

I have seen a transformed Asaba, which also rekindles my heart for the country and gives me a more compelling reason to pray for more concession of responsibilities and resources to the sub-national units of our federation.

At this time that our nation is at a crossroad, we need to rethink our federalism. No doubt, we have concerns and agitations, but none is insurmountable if only we can have the right leadership with the courage to tinker the structural federalism to do just a little at devolving more power to the states.

I am convinced that the centre is holding on to so many responsibilities that can best be handled by the states. What I am saying, in essence, is that there is a need for constitutional review to devolve more powers and resources to the states.

When we move the powers, let us also move away from the resources that the federal government controls back to the states, so that we can see real development in place.

The projects I have seen in Delta, which include this specialist hospital being inaugurated today, are clear testimony that with more devolution of responsibilities and resources to states so much can be done.

Concerns can be addressed, nerves can be calmed and a great country that works for everyone will be possible and the economy will strive better,

he stated.

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