By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—IN a bid to make the State House Medical Centre perform optimally, the Presidency has concluded plans to revert it to a clinic which it was before.
But some staff at the State House are kicking against the proposal, alleging that the idea was to privatise the centre and make cost of medical services un-affordable.
The Permanent Secretary, State House, Jalal Arabi who was contacted to comment on the true position of the government’s plan told Vanguard that the efforts of the government in repositioning the centre was to make it a functional entity with the best medical services.
The Permanent Secretary debunked insinuations in some quarters that the presidency plans to privatize the centre and make it unaffordable for workers of lower income.
He said, “Well, if you ask me sincerely, every government which desires development ensures that the system is working. And I am not per se a strategist but a realist in the true sense of it and of course I should appreciate what is working and what is not working. The good thing about it is of course is because it has been in the public domain that there are some challenges in the workings of the State House Medical Center.
“So, if the desire is to get a functional entity, a functional outfit and of course, converting it or reverting it to the initial concept of a Clinic to make work, to serve the purpose for which it was established, to help humanity in addition to what it’s meant or conceived to be, why not? The most important thing is to make sure that you don’t make those working there now to feel side-lined, short-changed or out of job. I don’t think that is the intention.
“The delighting thing is the fact that all those working there are civil servants, part and parcel of the system, so nobody will lose out. But talking frankly is the desire to get the place functioning and functioning well, informed the decision to revert it to Clinic. That is what it was meant to be, that was the concept.
“Good of course, at a point in time, there was the ambition to make it a center, it was expanded and so many things came in that are attendant to the status of center, and it worked. Perhaps to say that it worked well, that is for the public to discern but with what we have experienced, these days or years with what has been happening in the entire health sector or system will show the best we can do for it to serve the purpose for which it was meant and to serve humanity as it is doing now probably on a much more manageable, much more productive and result-oriented status, is to revert it to a Clinic. But nobody is going to lose out.”
Asked whether it would save cost for government, Arabi said, “Absolutely, the intention is that, having known where we are in terms of budgeting system and of course, in terms of revenue as government now is faced with these challenges. It is going to be a case of cutting our coat according to our size and it will be good to go. I am sure everybody will be happy with this development.”
He explained that there will be nothing like a billing system, adding that the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS has been in place and has become the practice.
“The truth is that it is not much what they will be asked to pay but much of the services they will get based on a concise size that the budget can accommodate and the budget can service. No more, no less, and everybody will be happy, I assure you of that,” he said.
On whether the centre will be privatized, he said, “No, not at all. I don’t know whether it is in our psyche or not, sometimes, we detest changes when they come. But I mean far from it, there is not going to be anything privatization or so.
“It is still going to serve the purpose for which it is meant. I mean, those that have been going there, will still go there, but as I said, it’s going to be managed purely on the issue of what I can afford, what I do so that I get the best out it. It’s not much of the name but much of the service and satisfaction that people would get.”