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We Are Breathing Life Into Ebonyi State Health Sector - Health - Nairaland

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We Are Breathing Life Into Ebonyi State Health Sector by donodion(m): 6:28am On Apr 22, 2016
We’re breathing life into our health sector—Umezuruike

Written by: Victor Ogunyinka
April 15, 2016

Ebonyi State is not one of those states that make the news regularly. Since the change of administration about a year ago, the state has had its fair share of circumstances in the health sector.

A recent visit to the state gives an insight into how the state government is trying to stay on top of their health challenges, having recorded deadly episodes of cholera in that past, perceived cases of guinea worm, incessant malaria (which is a national malady), HIV/AIDS and most recently, Lassa fever that claimed no fewer than six lives.
The Ebonyi State Commissioner for Health, Dr Daniel Umezuruike, while discussing the state of the State before his emergence, recalled that a survey on the health sector was conducted to familiarise the Governor David Umahi-led administration with the state of the sector and devise necessary interventions to improve the sector.

Dr Umezuruike explained that just before his appointment in July 2015, the state was ravaged by cholera outbreak in February 2015, which had in the past affected about 38 communities. He stated that the state governor gave the new team a mandate to find a solution to the outbreak, which they were able to achieve in two weeks.
But that is not all. He said: “We have had a lot of interventions in major diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. These were the three major diseases we targeted for control. The state government in collaboration with USAID procured 1.7million long lasting treated mosquito nets and distributed to people of Ebonyi State to combat malaria surge; it was quite a huge success. We also attracted an ultra modern chest clinic in one of our missionary hospitals in the state through one of our partners. This clinic has all the equipment and facilities for diagnosing and treating tuberculosis. Because of our intervention in the area of malaria control, Ebonyi State came first in the country in the National Malaria meeting held in Abuja, August 2015.
“USAID has been a very dependable partner; they have been supporting the state immensely. Recently, they donated equipment worth N47 million to Ebonyi State. There was collaboration with my office on need assistance for 70 primary health centres they were supporting and also the National Obstetrics Fistula centre. Need assistance means that when I come to your house and I see that you need a particular thing, I’ll supply. The equipments were loaded in two trucks. They officially handed them over to the governor on that occasion.”
While giving an account of how the state has been coping with the perennial outbreak of Lassa fever, Dr Umezuruike noted that since the first episode of Lassa fever in 2005, there have been continual occurrences in 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2016, which have led to the deaths of health workers and some dwellers in the community.

The commissioner stated that there has been continuous awareness around the state on how to prevent further occurrences in the future. He added that “The Federal Government once said that a virology centre would be built in Ebonyi State because of the incessant outbreaks, but nothing has been done yet. Then, the governor said we can’t continue to wait, so we started something that is quite commendable and I can say we have covered some ground in making this project a reality.

“Also, to ensure that our health facilities are ready for any subsequent outbreaks whatsoever and to give adequate healthcare to the good people of Ebonyi State, we are working on upgrading the 13 general hospitals in the state. Five of them are entirely new projects while the other eight are renovation works to adequately equip the hospitals, supply constant electricity, potable water and sufficient manpower. But we are starting with six out of the 13; two in each senatorial zones because the economy are terribly bad.
“We also want to upgrade five primary health centres in each local government area which will make it 65 in the whole state. If we upgrade these 65 primary health centres to function for 24 hours, with electricity, water and full support staff. These would go a long way in putting Ebonyi at the fore in terms of health.

“The governor understands the importance of qualitative primary health centres very well. From the beginning, his emphasis has been on primary healthcare centres (PHC) and that is why he appointed three special assistants from each senatorial zone on primary healthcare. Our target is to have one standard in each ward that is not to say others will not be functioning well, but then again, because of the economy, we started with five in each local government area until we get to the 171 wards in the state,” he said.
To some extent, the fall in price of oil in the global market has exposed other sectors of the economy that have potential to generate revenue. Being one of the states with the lowest revenue, Ebonyi State’s attention has been shifted to how the health sector can become a source of revenue for the state.

[b]Dr Umezuruike hinted that one of the “best health financing policies” was about to commence in the state and that is the state health insurance scheme.
“The health insurance scheme ensures universal coverage and it also supports health facilities. It limits out-of-pocket expenses on health; removes pressure from governance because presently, the state supports lot of in-patients. If the health scheme is well organised, some of the vulnerable groups will be well accommodated. It is a very good policy and we are almost at the verge of starting it in Ebonyi State.
“We have two models: the formal scheme where civil servants would be in view and the second one is the informal scheme where we have community contributors; people can be registered in the community and have a common voice on the amount they will be contributing for the scheme. With these, we can achieve a lot. For instance, imagine a scenario where about 5,000 people would come together to contribute N500 monthly to support the programme. That money can be used to save a lot of lives especially people that don’t have money to go to the hospital,” the commissioner explained.[/b]

Furthermore, Dr Umezuruike revealed that there was a mandate to construct a state drug distribution centre to help checkmate issues of fake and adulterated drugs in the state. He said that the state would get drugs directly from the manufacturers and importers, which would help control the influx of fake drugs. “We will also do a routine check round the drugstores in the state to verify the source of their drugs. This will also be a way of generating revenue for the state,” he said.

The commissioner said that the state was doing everything possible to increase the maternal and infant mortality rate in the state, which he said was still a problem in most states of the country.
“The profile is not very good generally; our national average for maternal mortality is still at 576 per 100, 000 live births and that of infant mortality stood at 301, which is very high. It is just a demonstration of the fact that our health system is still very weak. But when you start having good and coordinated healthcare delivery, all those indices would start falling. The state has the intention of paying for the vulnerable groups and that includes women and children and the health insurance scheme would drastically reduce the mortality rate of these groups.”
Dr Umezuruike acknowledged the role of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) in maternal mortality. He said that the state government was doing a lot in curbing their excesses, adding that the TBAs “know that it is a taboo to keep a woman in labour for more than 10 hours. Once it is above that time, they know it is an offense agsinst the state.

courtesy The Tribune Newspaper
Re: We Are Breathing Life Into Ebonyi State Health Sector by donodion(m): 6:30am On Apr 22, 2016
At the bolded same idea have been ringing in my head for almost 5 months.

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