Dr. Muhammadu Jabbi Kilgori is the Sokoto State commissioner for health. In this interview, he speaks on various health issues and the contribution of the state government in the area of improving health standards of the people. Excerpts:
By Abdulah el-Kurebe
LET us do a rundown of the achievements of the Health Ministry in comparison to some eight years back.
Well, what I will say is that the Ministry of Health of today is very much determined and committed to ensure that we bring health care services close to the people, especially those in the rural communities, in terms of quality, affordability and access. So, we are very much engaged in so many activities far ahead and above what was happening eight years ago.
The number of health facilities that are now providing health services and the number and quality of health personnel are enormously encouraging. In terms of medical care also, we have introduced and strengthened some health programmes, including the drug revolving fund, the Free Medical Care (FREMCARE), Rural Mobile Medical Care (RUMCARE) and many other programmes that are running.
So, there are so many things, which we are engaged in. We are targeting to meet up with one of the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, that of enhancing health care by reducing drastically the maternal and child mortality and ensuring that we enhance the health status of the people of Sokoto State to be able to put them in the best physical, mental and social status, so also for them to be able to vigorously pursue their economic and social activities.
You mentioned FREMCAREÂ and RUMCARE. What are these about?
FREMCARE, an acronym for free medical care and RUMCARE for rural mobile medical care, is a programme introduced by the Magatakarda administration in order to achieve the goal targets of MDGs, NEEDS and SEEDS to reduce poor health indices by 2015.
FREMCARE gives free medical care for pregnant women and children under five years. For the children, FREMCARE is targeted to prevent, treat and control malaria, diarrhea, dysentery, measles, typhoid and tuberculosis, etc, while it is targeted for clinical ante-natal, post-natal, obstetric, gynae, emergency care services, pregnancy and delivery complications, including hemorrhage, sepsis, pregnancy associated with high blood pressure, anemia, malaria and unsafe abortion for pregnant women.
Reports indicate that FREMCARE is being abused in some rural areas; the drugs are paid for by those who are meant to enjoy them free.Â How would you react to this allegation?
Well so far, I have not received a report of people charging money for the free drugs. I have received report of some incidences where the drug was diverted or some howÂ got missing. The drugs are marked, â€œnot for saleâ€. So, anybody who sells it does it at his or her own risk.
But we continue to educate the people because this is a programme that requires intensive and massive education. People have to be educated and enlightened on how to access the care and how to make the best use of it. Those handling the programme have also been sensitized.
Reportedly, Sokoto is one of the states in the north that has high number of indigent people. Do you intend to introduce a programme aimed at cushioning the medical bills of patients with such diseases as hypertension, HIV/AIDs, diabetes, kidney failure and so on?
As long as you are resident in Sokoto State, we donâ€™t discriminate. The area we give free medical care for all now include HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis. Here we donâ€™t discriminate. Once you are in Sokoto, you are a Sokoto indigene. We do not also discriminate in the free medical care, which we give. Every eligible child within the community has the right to access care, which we provide and parents are free to demand for such free drugs.
Any woman that comes to deliver in the hospital now would be given free delivery and other services; even if it involves Caesarean Section, CS, it will be given free. So, we do not have discrimination in terms of health care just like in education. All people within Sokoto state are free to access services being rendered by the state Ministry of Health.