Emphasizes access to finance scheme in Delta State
Delta State Government, led by the Chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria, Delta State Chapter, Hon. Itiako Ikpokpo met with several stakeholders including the PharmAccess Foundation, private providers, potential investors and the Bank of Industry on the state of primary care in Delta State.
In the Chairman’s opening speech, he stated that the state government must begin to consider new and innovative frameworks that would see all Deltans, irrespective of their socioeconomic status or geographical location, have access to quality healthcare services.
He cited that the Government must begin to consider a constructive partnership with the private sector. He quoted the Access to Finance Scheme championed by the Delta State Contributory Health Commission, the PharmAccess Foundation and the Bank of Industry as one of such frameworks that should be scaled up to spread across the entire state for all residents to benefit equally.
He stressed the need for stakeholders to reconvene and see how the private sector can co-inhabit with existing structures and staff to mitigate the resistance against such schemes worthy of emulation.
In support of the Chairman of Chairmen, several other Chairmen spoke on the need to partner effectively with the private sector to ensure that residents of their different LGAs had access to quality care.
Dr. Ben Nkechika, the Director-General of the Scheme, in his presentation on the progress of the Delta State Health Scheme, said that the scheme has registered almost 700,000 residents in the state, with the registrations of the informal sector being the least at 8,000 residents.
He stressed the need to revitalize the primary healthcare centers, mentioning that to date, the Commission has paid over N1 billion naira to secondary and tertiary hospitals for the provision of healthcare services which could have been paid to the primary healthcare centers if they were functional and available.
Nkechika then extensively described the social impact of the Access to Finance Scheme that saw 25 health facilities handed over to private providers under a PPP arrangement as a huge success, iterating that over 500,000 residents who, before now, never had access to care for over 20 years are now benefitting from the State Health Scheme.
In his words, “We have now performed several surgeries and delivered several babies through this innovative framework in partnership with the PharmAccess Foundation and the Bank of Industry.
We also have men of 20 years and above coming for circumcision because they did not have any facilities to offer this previously.
If we are able to continuously partner with the private sector to drive expertise and investments into primary care, very soon Delta State would be the first state to achieve UHC in Nigeria”.
Describing the Access to Finance Scheme, Mr. Olufisayo Okunsanya, the Business Development Director of the Medical Credit Fund, said the scheme was borne out of the need to provide equitable healthcare services by facilitating funding to private providers to co-manage Primary Healthcare Centres in a PPP arrangement in order to deliver healthcare services under the Delta State Health Scheme.
This funding, provided through a co-mingling of funds by the State Government, the Bank of Industry and guaranteed by the Medical Credit Fund of the PharmAccess Foundation, will then be loaned to the private providers at concessionary rates.
He mentioned that the funds that the Government provides can be seen as investments, as the private providers would repay the loans at agreed interest rates.
In her speech, the Country Director of the PharmAccess Foundation, Ms. Njide Ndili, added that the success recorded already in Delta State is a result of a continuous corporation with all stakeholders and the unique leadership provided by the Director-General of the Delta State Contributory Health Commission.
She iterated that the program would have seen some degree of stagnation if the DG had not stepped in to untangle some of the knots that were identified during the process.
She also praised the Delta State Government for the consultative forum, citing that this was the very first time the owners of the primary care system in the country would engage the private sector in a dialogue to pave the way for qualitative and quantitative primary care services in the State.
In her testimonial, one of the beneficiaries of the first round of the Access to Finance Scheme, the MD/CEO of Paelon Memorial Clinic, Dr. Ngozi Onyia, who now oversees the Health Facility in Amai Local Government, said that this initiative has paved a way for her to give back to the society, and she feels very fulfilled partaking in this program.
Prince Emeka Eze, another beneficiary and the Managing Director of Toronto Hospital, added the partnership with the PharmAccess’ Access to Finance Program, which has assisted them in delivering healthcare services to underserved communities in Delta State. According to him, “The opportunity has been one of the full-filling parts of my career in hospital practice.”
The Access to Finance Framework seeks to increase the availability of quality care by supporting private healthcare providers to revitalise and manage defunct public primary healthcare facilities.
Private operators can access affordable loans which then enables them to invest in the business. The loans are combined with technical assistance and a healthcare quality improvement program called SafeCare.
Medical Credit Fund was established in 2009 as part of the PharmAccess Group to increase access to better healthcare services in sub-Saharan Africa for low-income patients.
It remains the only dedicated fund to finance and support small and medium-sized healthcare enterprises in Africa. So far, the fund has extended over 3,500 loans totaling US$ 62 million.
The PharmAccess Foundation is non-profit Dutch-based NGO interested in making health markets work.
It does this through several interventions focused on both demand and supply-side interventions layered onto a digital platform to promote efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of qualitative and quantitative healthcare services.