Stakeholders in the health sector and citizens in Kwara State have underscored the need for proper sensitization for health deliverables, improved primary health care facilities and unbridled communication between the government and the citizens.
The stakeholders shared the views at a State Health Sector Agenda Townhall Conversation on COVID-19 Transparency Accountability Project, CTAP, in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
The event, held on Tuesday, November 07, 2023 was organized by the DEAN Initiative, in partnership with Connected Development, CODE, and BudgiT with support from Global Integrity.
It was attended by government officials, Healthcare Professionals, Civil Society Organizations and community representatives.
Kwara State Commissioner for Health, Dr Amina Ahmed El-Imam, while speaking at the town hall conversation, reiterated the determination of the state government to ensure universal health coverage in the state.
Represented by Dr Oyeyipo Olabisi, of the Ministry of Health, the Commissioner, noted that the state has always prioritize the fight against COVID-19.
El-imam added that despite the decline in the spread of the virus, Kwara still engaged in broadcast of jingles, sensitization programmes, and community outreaches.
The commissioner noted that the government effort at busting various myths regarding COVID-19 has also helped to make sure Kwara people embrace COVID-19 vaccination.
Responding to some of the issues raised by CSOs and community representatives, El-Imam admitted shortage of personnel in the health facilities, but noted that the Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq administration is working to address the challenges.
“The problems we have is not the lack of Primary health care centres, but because there may not be enough hands even where there are PHCs. Every year government builds and renovate health care centres. In next year’s budget, there will be budget allocation for more to come on board.” She explained
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Nusirat Elelu, said the process of COVID-19 vaccination is now simple and easier to administer with the single dose.
While also restating Kwara’s commitment towards combating the virus, she recalled that Kwara was one of the first five states ranked to be proactive with the state deputy Governor among the few top government officials to take the vaccine in public to boost public confidence.
Responding to some of the requests by the people, Elelu, who was represented by Dr Adeniran clarified that many of the primary health care centres belong to the local government councils and not the state as erroneously believed.
The Executive Secretary however disclosed plans to employ more hands and renovate some centres to include the primary health center at Tanke.
On allegations of turning the health centres to revenue generating units, Elelu denied the claim and asked centers or workers who make such request to be reported to the state.
Her words: “The Primary health centers are not placed on any revenue target. Please report anyone who says so or demands unnecessary medical bill when you visit. The centres only ask you to pay token for registration card for record purpose and because their operation are out-of-pocket.
“We also have a drug revolving scheme in place, so whatever you pay for drugs is to be able to restock and not for profit. ”
Earlier, representative of the Elite Network for Sustainable development, EnetSuD, Com. Lanre Osho, had called the attention of the gathering to the lack of Primary Health centers and personnel in many communities across the state, especially in Kwara North.
He noted that the Kwara State government is trying, but added that more needs to be done looking at the available data.
Head of Centre for Community Empowerment and Poverty Eradication (CEPE), Mr Ramon Ayuba Akindele, stressed the need to make the primary health centers free, in order to encourage citizens to go there.
Also speaking, State lead for Budgit, Mr Olanrewaju Lawal, expressed concern over the abandoned PHC center at Tanke. He called on the government to resuscitate it considering its importance in the populated area.
Community representatives to include Badari, Onikanga, Sabo-Oke, and Ekiti-Kwara, were among those who spoke at the town hall conversation.
Larayetan Michael Semiye, Executive Director, DEAN Initiative, said the aim is to bring the stakeholders together and engage them in a purposeful conversation with the State Health Commissioner.
This, he said is to foster a collaborative dialogue between the government and the communities towards enhancing health services in the state.
He noted that several communities in different states encounter peculiar challenges, hence the need for the government to get first hand information, and offer solution to such challenges.
Olaleru Fisayo Roseline, Finance Officer, DEAN Initiative, said the initiative has so far been impactful, in reach and citizen enlightenment, empowerment of community advocates, and stories shared.