By Tina Akannam, Dutse
IN spite of its financial position, Jigawa State has emerged as one of the most consistent states in the country, providing interrupted free medical support to pregnant women and children from age zero and five years.
The state is rendering the free service not minding whether the benefitting women and children are natives of the state or not.
According to government officials, the ultimate aim of the programme is to save lives and give hope to the hopeless. The gesture is said to have brought joy to many families within and outside Jigawa State. Many women and children from nearby states such as Kano have also enjoyed the benevolence of the state and are glad.
Chief Medical Director who is overseeing the programme, Dr. Abbas Garba, who spoke through the Director of Medical Services, Pharmacist Hassan, explained that the programme does not discriminate against any pregnant woman, any child under five years, indigent persons or the elderly who cannot afford to pay for medical services irrespective of their state of origin.
According to him, the programme which was essentially designed to help women and children of the state origin has been in place for over ten years and has been helping to reduce infant and maternal deaths.
He confirmed that women and children in every part of the state have been enjoying free maternal and child health services in the state for over 10 years. Pharmacist Hassan said the state embarked on the programme when it became clear that death among pregnant women and children was increasing and that they needed to take urgent actions to confront the ugly trend at that time.
Hassan said: “When maternal and child mortality rate became high in the state, the administration decided to do something extensively to address the problem.
“A number of proactive solutions such as building more cottage hospitals and adoption of free medical services for women were adopted in the state and they are really helping to drive down the wave of death and ailments.”
He explained that the state government under Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar saw the need to improve on what he inherited from his predecessor to reduce the high maternnal deaths from conception to the age of five.
He added that the state government was compelled to develop a special budget under capital expenditures to take care of free maternal and child health services throughout the state. Under the system, the state government pays the medical bills of pregnant women, their delivery bills and until 42 days after delivery while the babies continue to enjoy free medical treatment until they are five years.
The director explained that there is no exemption in the free maternal and child health services, adding: “It doesn’t matter whether the delivery is through Caesarean Section or normal delivery, the state government pays the bill under the state scheme and provides free drugs for the beneficiaries”.
The programme also caters for women who bring their children to the General Hospital, Dutse for routine immunisation even up to nine months after delivery. They are given mosquito nets at subsidised rates to prevent malarial attacks.
The state Acting Commissioner of Health, Dr. Salisu Ma’azu, explained that the free maternal and child health services is expensive because the state has committed a huge amount of money into the scheme all in a bid to save lives and give hope to families who are financially challenged.
The commissioner explained that under the scheme the governor also directed that all accident victims in the state should be treated free of charge irrespective of their state of origin.
The reactions by the beneficiaries are exciting too. The view of a tricycle rider, Ibrahim Mohammed, sums it all: “It is better for me to give my wife money to travel to Jigawa State for treatment than go to hospital in my state where I have to pay for everything. It is because of the free medical services being rendered by Jigawa that more and more women and children flock to the state for medical services than those who do so in my state.”
Similarly, a woman who simply gave her name as Maryam, told Arewa Voice that she came all the way from Kafinhausa Local Government Area of the state to Dutse in order to enjoy the free medical services being offered by the state because her baby had some complications which the local hospital in her town cannot treat. She said: “Alhamdullahi baby is getting better after the free operation in Dutse.”
Another woman Arewa Voice spoke to in Birnin Kudu LGA of the state, who identified herself as Mama Baturiya, said Jigawa women are lucky to enjoy free medical services despite the economic hardship in the country.
While thanking the state government for sustaining the scheme over the years, Bauriya explained that her daughter, who was delivered through CS at the Birninkudu General Hospital free, needed an operation but had no money for such but had to use the free medical service to rescue her baby.
“When she was marked for operation there was no money anywhere. And my daughter came back home with her healthy child after one week of the operation. We are very grateful to this government,” she said.