By Oluwafunke Ishola
Lagos – The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has reiterated the state government’s commitment to revitalise the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in the state.
Abayomi said on Sunday in Lagos that this was to provide quality, efficient and accessible healthcare services for the citizens.
He said that revitalising the PHCs would enable the state to attain the goals of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The commissioner said that PHC forms the foundation of healthcare structure at the community level of any global health strategy.
According to him, across the country, a good number of primary healthcare centres were dilapidated, thus unable to provide the required services.
“The situation is not very different in Lagos.
“Therefore, it is imperative that we begin to engage all tiers of government to find the right funding and operational model.
“In addition, the right statutory governance oversight is required to ensure that we jointly take responsibility for these centres through efficient management systems,” he said in a statement.
Abayomi said that the Nigeria Constitution and the Lagos State Health Reform Act placed huge responsibilities and roles on the Local Government Area Health Authority and Ward Committees to be responsible for functioning of PHCs.
He said that concerted advocacy efforts at this tier of government was required to initiate the revitalisation process and long term sustainability of the PHC system.
According to him, the success of the Lagos State Health Scheme, which is aimed at delivering basic healthcare to majority of Lagos residents and help attain UHC is dependent on a functional PHC system.
The commissioner said that the state government had developed policies and currently implementing strategies aimed at reviving the PHC system.
Abayomi, however, said the state’s resources were stretched, adding that to attain UHC in record time, there was a need for the state and local governments to partner with the private sector for innovative solutions.
“One of such innovations is the ‘Access to Finance Scheme’ where the state in the previous dispensation, had commenced a pilot where 43 of underutilised PHCs would be allocated to the private sector for revitalisation in a Public-Private Partnership arrangement.
“These private sector players would also have access to concessionary repayable loans, bankrolled through blended financing, which would ensure they have the capital for start.
“It will also provide affordable services to the enrollees of the state mandatory health insurance scheme.
“But, for this pilot project to be potentially effective, further stakeholders’ engagement at the community and local government level is necessary to get the buy in of the necessary structures to ensure the pilot is viable,” he said.
The commissioner said that the current administration, as part of the THEMES mandate, had pledged to gradually increase allocation to health sector from the present eight per cent to approach 15 per cent over its tenure.
He said that this was aimed at achieving UHC and inline with the Abuja declaration of allocating 15 per cent of budget to health.
“Though, allocation is different from drawdown on the approved budgetary allocation.
“All efforts will henceforth be made to ensure that funding is available for capital and recurrent expenditure to ensure public facilities are well maintained and running efficiently.
“Moving forward, we will prioritise income generation projects, efficiencies and cost containment,” Abayomi said.
He said that the demographic profile of Lagos was a challenge that needs to be addressed in attaining UHC.
The commissioner said that the state’s population had surpassed 20 million and rising daily, which qualified it as “a Hyper City”.
He said that the situation resulted from constant migration of people into the city, either induced by the insurgencies, climatic forces or the attraction of the economic viability of Lagos.
“This brings about a great strain on the existing facilities in the state by people who require healthcare services and also threatens its biosecurity.
“This is why there is an urgent need for all relevant stakeholders, including the Federal Government, to be involved in the propagation of primary healthcare to congregate and brainstorm on the appropriate financing mechanism to rejuvenate this system.
“As a matter of priority, we are going to deeply engage with the local government structures and the House of Assembly on this critical issue.
“It is of utmost importance that all stakeholders agree on a collective and unified common agenda on a way forward,” he said.
He said that the state Ministry of Health would go to any length to find funding model and administrative support to the local government structures toward achieving the set goals.