By Ben Ngwakwe, Gombe
Residents of Gombe State may soon enjoy uninterrupted health services as the state government has begun the implementation of a compulsory contributory healthcare scheme with the provision of health centres in all the 114 wards in the state.
Governor Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, who announced the development at the opening of the state’s Contributory Healthcare Scheme, known as GOHEALTH in Gombe on Wednesday, explained that the move was to ensure that the natives have unhindered access to health care delivery.
The Governor said his administration decided to adopt a holistic approach to address the health challenges so as to improve both physical and financial accessibility to basic health services.
Yahaya said: “We commenced immediate revitalization of at least one fully functional Primary Health Centre in each of the 114 political wards of the state in collaboration with the World Bank-supported Nigeria State Health Investment Project, which saw us injecting over N600 million as counterpart fund. Today, I am proud to say we have at least one PHC in every ward of the state that is fully revitalized and open 24-hours a day in order to provide basic health services to our people at the grassroots.
“Available data shows that in the North-East region of Nigeria, more than 60% of this kind of out-of-pocket expenditure for health services pushes individuals and families into poverty. That is why we worked tirelessly with the Gombe State House of Assembly to enact the enabling law that establishes the Gombe State Contributory Healthcare Scheme following the decentralization of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
“GoHealth is established with the sole aim of ensuring that all residents of Gombe State have access to quality health service at an affordable cost without suffering financial hardship. We have also constituted the Governing Board and posted appropriate and competent staff to the agency to ensure a successful implementation of the scheme in our state.
“We have also earmarked not less than one percent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State and LGAs to finance the cost of healthcare for the poor and vulnerable person sin our communities. So far, over 25,000 poor and vulnerable individuals across all the 114 wards have been enrolled to enjoy free access to basic health services in the state as first phase,” Governor Yahaya said.
The governor said the state government had also reached an agreement with the labour unions to contribute 3.5% of workers’ salaries while the government will also contribute another 3.5% to cover the healthcare needs of each worker and five other dependants as part of the healthcare scheme.
The governor also announced that the Specialist Hospital Gombe had been revitalised and expanded to be able to cope with the ever-increasing demand by the public and the growing population in the state while efforts had been made to established a general hospital each in Bajoga, Kumo and Kaltungo.