By Chioma Obinna
The Primary Healthcare is essential health care that is based on scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology that make universal health care accessible to all individuals and families in a community. It is through their full participation and at a cost that the community and the country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination.
Considered as cornerstone of universal health systems, unfortunately, this aspect of healthcare system has continued to suffer in terms of funding and other areas of operations in many states across the nation.
The long neglect of this level of care has brought grief on the secondary and tertiary facilities.
However, one state that has recognised the need for functional PHCs is Lagos State.
The new zeal may not be unconnected with the common saying that, only healthy population make important contribution to economic progress, as they are more productive. It also goes to show that for a country to progress it must provide quality health services to the people to ensure high productivity.
These may have explained the rationale behind the ongoing revitalisation of all the PHCs, in the 57 Local Council Development Areas, LCDAs, of the State through the office of Office of the Special Adviser on Primary Health Care and the Primary Health Care Board.
The renewed focus on primary level of care which began a year ago in the state was part of efforts geared towards prioritising healthcare at the grassroots as well as making life easier for the rural poor. It has been a worthy cause from indications.
For the sake of those at the grassroots, the exercise is focused on addressing key areas such as infrastructural upgrade, data management, operational cost, power supply, water supply, drug supply, sewage management, staffing, immunisation programmes, and also bridging communication gap between the Ministry of Health, Local Government and Primary Healthcare Board, Facility management and monitoring, insurance Scheme amongst others.
These also serve as part of efforts to increase access and enable rural dwellers to take possession of services rendered in the various localities. The government has also impressed it on health workers at the various facilities to deliver their services diligently.
Infact to ensure better service deliveries in these centres and tackle spate of criticisms of the attitudes and commitment, henceforth any health worker whose attitude and commitment to duties negates the attainment of policy thrust of the State government’s delivery of qualitative and affordable healthcare services to the people will be visited with the boot.
To match words with action, a monitoring team is now in place to make unscheduled visits to primary health care centres across the State to see things the way they are.
Today, effective monitoring have been carried out in over 150 PHCs out of 294 PHCs on ground, from January 2016 till date. One thing unique about the ongoing scale-up is the fact that outreach programmes are being re-energised and sustained to address current gaps in the delivery of quality health services in under-served areas.
PHCs that have not been functioning are now being equipped, like Orile Iganmu Primary Health Clinic have been equipped and 10 other mini- health clinics in partnership with the Ministry of Rural Development.
Health watchers believed that the ongoing exercise will bring communities closer to health and increase consumer demand for health services.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary Health Care, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, said existing partnerships with community-based enablers and promoters, ward health development committees and local government health authorities are also being strengthened.
“With the conviction that the Primary Healthcare System is the bedrock of any health services, there is an unwavering commitment of the Present administration to ensure that some Primary Health Clinics in the State are positioned to offer 24 hours qualitative and efficient preventive and basic remedial health services to the people at the grassroots.
Already there is ongoing recruitment of Health workers into Flagship PHCs to ensure provision of adequate workforce for effective service delivery.
“The destination of revitalisation drive is to bring health services closer to communities rehabilitate, upgrade and revitalise primary healthcare (PHC) centres, increase the human workforce available to the most under-served populations, recruit, train and supervise more community health extension workers, institute rotating posts for doctors and nurses, along with performance-based financing, use performance-based contracts with private health providers
Removing financial barriers
“Also to remove financial barriers the state government has established a State Health Insurance Scheme to provide social health protection for all. Only last year, the law establishing the scheme was passed by the state assembly.
Onanuga said Government is not unmindful of the challenges facing Primary Health Care System, he however revealed that the present administration is very passionate and eager to effect major and lasting transformations that will make access to healthcare facilities at the grassroots hassle free.
He said because the challenges confronting primary level of health care system is not adequately addressed that is why the secondary and tertiary levels of care are overwhelmed.
“We cannot run the PHC from the Ministry, we need full support of the Local Government to make Institutions work, so we need to sit and find out what are the challenges and work in partnership to have a successful Primary Healthcare.”
“The law on Health Insurance Scheme will soon commence its operation and that is why government is putting everything in place to ensure its successful and smooth running.