Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire
By Ozioruva Aliu
BENIN CITY – THE outgoing Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said despite the federal government’s investments in the health sector, Nigeria was still among the countries with the worst health indices on earth as it relates to child, maternal, and even road traffic accidents.
He said these happenings are mostly in rural areas with no health care and much ignorance despite the spending in the sector.
Ehanire stated this in Benin City weekend when he delivered his keynote address at the inauguration of the South-South Zone Traditional Leaders’ Committee (SSTLC) on Primary Health Care Delivery at the Festival Hall of Government House, Benin, Edo State.
According to him, the primary healthcare system was the bedrock of any functional healthcare delivery system being the citizens’ first point of contact with the healthcare system adding that up to 60 to 70 percent of what had been driving people to seek health care could be provided in a primary health care centre
He said: “This event marks an important milestone in our efforts to expand and strengthen the delivery of healthcare services to all citizens, particularly in the South-South zone, and at the grass-roots level.
“Nigeria has made significant progress in recent years in improving primary health care services, especially with revitalisation of more primary health care centres, with the policy of the Buhari administration that aims to leave no one behind. However, we still have a lot of work to do, especially in rural and hard-to-reach areas, where access to healthcare services remains a major challenge.
“Experience teaches us that the government cannot do it alone. This is why in all our primary health interventions, community engagement remains our strategic approach. In this regard, we know that our respected traditional leaders are key to success, because, not carrying the gatekeepers and custodians of our culture and values along, yields no result.”
Edo Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the state’s Ministry of Health, Dr. Stanley Ehiarimwian, hailed the health minister, an Edo indigene, for making the state proud, while promising to support the newly-inaugurated SSTLC, so as to achieve its goals.
The Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, in his remarks, stated that SSTLC was conceived as a zonal coordination platform for paramount traditional leaders from the six states in the South-South zone.
Shuaib also assured that the initiative would change the narrative of the health indices and improve the health of the people, particularly in the South-South zone, and Nigeria in general, by leveraging the great influence of the monarchs.
Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, who was represented by the Obasogie of Benin, Chief George Ekhator, while also speaking, stated that the health minister was full of vision and wisdom while giving an assurance that Benin Kingdom would fully support the SSTLC initiative.
The South-South Zonal Director of NPHCDA, Dr. Josephine Obayagbona, earlier in her welcome address, described primary health care as the cornerstone of a healthy nation since it was the first point of contact for individuals and families in accessing essential health services.