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Minister seeks support for national health sector COVID-19 response plan

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The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has sought for the support of the Health Partners Coordinating Committee (HPCC) for the newly developed Integrated National Health Sector Covid-19 Response Plan derived from Pillar 4, Priority Area 1 of the NSHDP 11.

The plan, as learnt is to ensure defined responsibilities and harmonization of efforts across the Federal and States and non-interruption of non COVID-19 routine health services. This came to fore when the Minister held a virtual meeting with the Health Partners Coordinating Committee (HPCC) last Friday.

Dr. Ehanire sought for the HPCC to recall that Nigeria had earlier demonstrated commitment towards improving its health sector outputs and outcomes and achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) with the signing of the National Health Act, 2014 that gave birth to the Basic Health care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

He said, “The effective implementation of the BHCPF which requires partnership and robust collaboration with all the relevant stakeholders particularly the development partners is key to the realization of set goals towards the UHC”.

The Minister emphasized that maintaining strong collaboration with donors/partners and private sector will ensure alignment and achieving a balanced allocation of funds for financial sustainability.

The Minister  also explained that the BHCPF launched in January 2019 by President Buhari was suspended afterwards following observations by the Health Committees of the National Assembly (NASS) in a document entitled, ‘Design and Implementation of the BHCPF- A Review,’ in November, 2019 on grounds that some portions of the earlier developed 2018 operational manual for the implementation of the fund were not in compliance with the National Health Act and as such it’s further implementation would amount to deliberate flouting of the law.

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The followings, Dr. Osagie said were the issues raised by the National Assembly on the BHCPF:

1. Lack of clarity on “take off” of the implementation of BHCPF

•    States were being asked to deposit a uniform counterpart funding of N100 million not known to law;

2. Poor system thinking and tendency not to go outside “the box”

•    Section 11 of NH Act expected to be implemented as part of the whole whereas it will be great to implement it with sections 12 & 13;

•    Putting money into PHCs without established minimum standards of quality is not what it intends;

•    Provisional accreditation given to PHCs per ward is dangerous in a country where almost all temporary measures become permanent;

•    Allocating 2.5% of BHCPF to DHS is not the best use of funds;

•    Sub-national health experts not involved in the evolution of the guideline as much as the law expects and community needs to be more involved and engaged;

3. Concern of partners for their investments and theory of change to be safeguarded
•    Partners concerned that money in BHCPF is efficiently utilized. Everything should be done to do that but not at the expense of implementing the law;

•    Therefore, an accountability mechanism must be put in place to ensure various gateways are accountable;

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•    Since this is a system strengthening intervention that should continue ad infinitum, funds from donors should not constitute a distortion to the BHCPF.

4. Preference for unwieldy and complex bureaucracy
•    Creating a National Steering Committee and Secretariat are perceived as creating extra bureaucracy which may make the implementation of BHCPF quite unwieldy.

5. Desire to indulge/exclude governments at sub-national  levels in spite of the law

•    Eligibility required by law for any State to spend money from the pot is development of costed plan and payment of not less than 25% of the cost of the project;

•    It is not clear what criteria were used to determine the sums allocated to the States as well as why percentages are paid.

6. Poor preparedness of the States for this very important health reforms.

Consequently a committee set up by the Office of the Honourable Minister of Health to review the 2018 Operational Manual and correct the errors.  It submitted a guideline entitled, ‘Guidelines for the Administration Disbursement and Monitoring of the BHCPF’ which was subsequently harmonized with the 2018 Operations Manual with the 2020 Draft Guideline in existence, with respect to issues raised by the NASS Health Committees.

In a related note, on the signing of the Nigeria Country Compact Agreement with Development Partners scheduled for the HPCC meeting, the Minister said, “The compact is not in any way legally binding, but just a mutual understanding that we will work together to implement our National Strategy towards achieving UHC and attainment of SDG3.”

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Speaking further, he said, “To track implementation of the National Health Plan, the M&E plan of the NSHDP 11 has provided for a Joint Annual Review (JAR). On this, the NSHDP 11 JAR governance structure was inaugurated during the previous HPCC meeting’.

The Minister expressed appreciation to all for their continued support to the health sector while expressing his desire for more partnership and collaboration in concerted efforts to reposition the sector to be more efficient.

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Health

Go for test, COVID-19 not defeated yet, Oyo govt. urges residents

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The Seyi Makinde led – Oyo state government,on Tuesday urged residents of the state with signs and defined symptoms of the COVID-19 to submit themselves for testing, adding that the state  is yet to defeat the virus.

The state government also urged them to adhere strictly to the preventive protocols as enumerated by the  experts.

Dr Bashir Bello, the Commissioner for Health, who spoke at a sensitization program organized for journalists in the state on COVID-19, held at Kakanfo Inn in Ibadan disclosed that the state had some high rise in the positivity rates recently which the government is steering up to.

Dr. Bello averred that the flouting of COVID-19 protocols during the #EndSARS protests which rocked the country over the last few weeks is no doubt going to increase the rate of transmission of the virus, but assured that the state is prepared to tackle any upsurge; stressing that the permanent structures have been put in place to fight the virus on a long term note.

The Commissioner, who admitted that testing has reduced in the state, further explained that factors like stigmatization and fear are responsible for the reduction in the rate COVID-19 tests are conducted in the state.

“We are meant to give people initiative. As you have seen that the problem of stigmatization is one of the problems that we are having. You could now see that the few positively tested ones are refusing to give us their contacts. First of all, they don’t want the public to know that they have tested positive. Two, since they know it has affected you, you are now pointing to other people.

“So what actually happen is that we have left those centres, about 27 centres out of the 33 LCDAs so that people can willfully go without the problem of being stigmatized. It’s a place you can walk to without people knowing you. It’s like the HIV in those days that we were begging people to do test. HIV has now become a common thing even every pregnant woman is ready to get tested.

“So this COVID-19 issue has not been… although we still know we have it. For example, we are having high rises in the positivity rate which the government is steering up to and thanks to God we are not unprepared. We have had a very good output. A reliable arrest of the case but it is just like the motto of the ‘Boys Scout’ which is: we are prepared.

“We are only telling the public that COVID-19 is still very much around and we implore each and everyone of us to at their own free will go and get tested. Nobody will report that because we only send you the result through a coded number and a coded message to your personal phone number which you will have given in the form which is a fairly confidential way”, he added.

He also revealed that Oyo State is the only state where residents can undergo COVID-19 test free of charge,noting that other states now charge various amounts of money.

The Commissioner, however stated that the only set of people who pay to undergo COVID-19 test in the state are those who are planning to travel out of the country and they need a proof to certify that they are COVID-19 free.

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Health

Oyo govt. launches plan to reduce maternal, neonatal mortality rates, unveils ‘T’ỌMỌ T’ÌYÁ Initiative’

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Oyo  State government on Wednesday, launched the ‘T’ỌMỌ T’ÌYÁ Initiative,’ an effort aimed at reducing infant and maternal mortality rate in the state.

The programme, which was inaugurated at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, was equally aimed at improving the quality of reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child healthcare across the state.

Governor Seyi Makinde, who was represented by his deputy, Engr. Rauf Olaniyan, said at the launching of the initiative, that it aims to, among other things, reduce maternal mortality rate by 30 per cent and neonatal mortality rate by 20 per cent.

According to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, following the launch of the initiative, the number of births by skilled birth in the state will increase by 30 per cent while the healthcare facility utilization in the state will also rise to 60 per cent.

While inaugurating the steering and technical working committees, the governor stated that the committees will oversee all the reproductive, maternal, newborn and Child health (RMNCH) programmes in the state, while giving insights into the direction things should go.

He assured that the state, through the initiative, will meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Number Three, which targets improving maternal health.
He said: “It is this project that we are here today to inaugurate – the T’ỌMỌ T’ÌYÁ Initiative. As the name suggests, the initiative is for the mother and child. It is one key way through which we will be meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) number three, which targets improving maternal health.

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“Our plan is to ensure that qualitative Maternal and Child Healthcare services are offered at minimal cost. This will enable us to meet the objectives of this initiative.
“We are aware that in 2023, when this administration will be winding down, there will be another NDHS report. When that report comes out, we would like to see drastic reductions in these negative indices. Our goal is to reduce maternal mortality by 30 per cent and reduce neonatal, infant and child mortality by 20 per cent in Oyo State.

“To achieve this, by the grace of God and with the dedication, hard work and commitment of everyone involved in this project, we aim to increase the number of births by skilled birth attendants in the state by 30 per cent while also increasing the health care facility utilization in the state to 60 per cent.”

The governor added that the state will begin a pilot testing of some of the programmes under the initiative, noting that the state will advocate the meeting of the World Health Organisation recommendation of four or more antenatal care visits during pregnancy.

“So, we hope to start piloting some of the programmes under this initiative in the shortest possible time. One of the important things we will be advocating is meeting the WHO recommendation of four or more antenatal care visits during pregnancy.

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“The statistics show that when pregnant women are able to make at least four visits, the major complications that account for nearly 75 per cent of all maternal deaths are prevented.”
Governor Makinde, therefore, lauded the implementing partners for accepting to be members of the T’ỌMỌ T’ÌYÁ Initiative, saying: “As you embark on your deliberations to provide a blueprint on how we are to achieve these objectives, I must especially thank the implementing partners for accepting to be members of this important initiative. I pray that your source of ideas never runs dry as you think up creative ways of getting us off that list of worsts,” the governor said.

Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Bashir Bello, said the initiative is meant to ensure the welfare of the women before, during and after birth, particularly the new life they are bringing forth.

He added that the present administration in the state is committed to improving the health sector and changing the undesirable indices recorded in the National Child Health.
The Commissioner further hinted that the government will work towards seeing that every pregnant woman is insured with the support of local governments.

He said: “It is our belief that every pregnant woman, henceforth, will not only be insured but will also be given the necessary attention. With our authenticated preparation of the delivery, we are sure of what we are going to deliver. The very best attention we give to such a neonate will determine what is going to become of his or her future life.”

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Also speaking, the Special Adviser to Governor Makinde on Health, Dr. Funmi Salami, said the T’ỌMỌ T’ÌYÁ Initiative will contribute to a healthier and more prosperous society, as healthy babies grow into healthy adults who thrive and can contribute to their communities and society.

She stated that the mission of the initiative is to facilitate a consultative process among all stakeholders to identify priority areas and identify clear strategic directions for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH).

The event had the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Bisi Ilaka; Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun; chairman, Hospital Management Board, Dr. Gbola Adetunji; Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Mr. Jide Ajani; Representative of UNICEF, Tushar Ranee; Representative of WHO, Dr. Marcus Oluwadare and a host of others in attendance.

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Health

COVID-19: Oyo govt. urges residents to go for testing

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The Emergency Operations Centre, EOC, of the  Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force has called on residents of the state to avail themselves the opportunities of its decentralised testing system, to get themselves tested for the virus.

The Task Force added that contrary to misinformation that the virus has been defeated, it is still very much active, warning that adequate and observance of all the safety protocols remained the effective ways of combating the virus.

The Task Force, also said it has released a list of locations where residents of the state can undertake COVID-19 tests across the state.

According to a  statement signed  by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the list of centres was ratified on Monday at the state’s COVID-19 Task Force meeting presided by Governor Makinde.

The statement added that the available testing centres in the state include: State Hospital, Oyo; General Hospital, Saki; General Hospital, Iseyin; General Hospital, Igboora; General Hospital, Apata, Ibadan; Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan; Health is Wealth, Secretariat Road, Ibadan; and LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso.

It added that testing is also available in approved private laboratories across the state, stressing that residents can call the following numbers for enquiries: 08095394000, 08078288999, 08078288800, 08095863000 or dial *723*19*6# and follow the promptings.

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