Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya has flagged off the State Contributory Healthcare Scheme (GoHealth) with the renewed commitment to ensure all residents of the State have access to quality health service at an affordable cost without suffering financial hardship.
The Governor revealed at the flag off ceremony, which took place at the Banquet Hall of the Government House, that his administration has equally constituted the Governing Board and posted appropriate and competent staff to the Gombe State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency to ensure successful implementation of the scheme in the State.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya recalled that during the electioneering campaigns, he promised the people of the state that his administration will take bold steps to holistically address the numerous challenges facing health care delivery system in the State.
“Following our historic success at the polls, we set up a needs assessment team that toured over 400 communities across the the state to identify and prioritize the needs of our people.
“Access to quality health care came top as the most pressing problem bedeviling our people”.
He said survey has revealed extensive decay in the health system following years of neglect by the immediate past administration, the health institutions in State at the time under review was in shambles, without essential drugs and lacking, equipment and human resource.
“Our health indices were among the worst in the country. Yet, the system was being overstretched due to influx of IDPs from our neighboring states.
“However, upon assuming office in May 2019, we declared a state of emergency in the health sector and set an ambitious agenda to transform the system as set out in our health sector response plan 2019-2023.
“We adopted a holistic approach to address the challenges so as to improve both physical as well as financial accessibility to basic health services”.
The Governor explained that at the primary health care level, his administration has commenced immediate revitalization of at least 1 fully functional PHC in each of the 114 political wards of the state in collaboration with the World Bank-supported Nigeria State Health Investment Project (NSHIP) which saw the injection of over 600 million as counterpart funds.
“Today, I am proud to say we have at least 1 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”
Similarly, Governor Inuwa Yahaya said at the secondary health care level, his administration was able thoroughly renovate and upgrade the Specialist Hospital Gombe, thus expanding its capacity to meet the increasing demand for specialized health care service by the growing population in the State.
He maintained that the Gombe State Government under his leadership has also commenced works to upgrade 1 general hospital to a befitting status in each senatorial district which includes general hospitals of Bajoga, Kumo and Kaltungo.
“In addition, we shall equally renovate all other secondary health facilities in the state before the end of our four years mandate Insha’Allah.
“We have also established a Hospital Services Management Board to particularly ensure effective management of our secondary health facilities”.
He said in order to improve the human resource for health in the state, his administration completed the internship quarters in the Specialist Hospital which was abandoned for more than 20 years thus meeting a critical requirement for accreditation by the MDCN for internship training of young doctors, adding that his leadership is working to improve the training capacity of the college of nursing and midwifery.
“While we are working assiduously towards improving physical access to quality healthcare services, we are also mindful of the significant hardship that individuals and families face because of paying for basic health care services out-of-pocket at the point of service utilisation”
Governor Inuwa Yahaya noted that 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, saying that was why his administration is working tirelessly with the Gombe State House of Assembly to enact the enabling law that established the Gombe State Contributory Healthcare Scheme (GoHealth) following the decentralization of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
He said “the GoHealth scheme is designed so as to ensure every resident of Gombe State can benefit from at least 1 of its pre-payment programmes.
“For the formal sector, we 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 the worker and 5 of his/her dependents”.
“We also keyed into the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) which was officially flagged-off at Daban Fulani on 18th March 2021 to accelerate our drive towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.
“We have also earmarked not less than 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) 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”.
He assured that his administration will continue to work diligently with all stakeholders, development partners, traditional rulers, religious leaders, women groups and civil society organizations to ensure the provision of quality and affordable health care to the people of Gombe State.
Earlier in an address of welcome, the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Habu Dahiru said the establishment of the Gombe State Contributory Healthcare Scheme (GoHealth) is a deliberate effort by the administration of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya to achieve Universal Health Coverage for the people of the State.
“We are all aware of the comprehensive approach this administration is adopting to address the inherited challenges in the health sector by improving both physical as well as financial accessibility to basic health services.
“The State has witnessed a revolutionary turnaround at both the Primary and Secondary health facilities levels over the last two years”.
He said introducing such a scheme will no doubt protect individuals and families from financial difficulties should they have the cause to visit the hospital for medical attention.
The Chairman, Governing Board of the Gombe State Contributory Healthcare Scheme (GoHealth) Dr. Mohammed Isa Umar commended Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya for exhibiting a rare courage and political will towards the establishment of the Scheme.
He said 6 months of its establishment, the scheme has rolled out two important programmes to include basic health care programme for 25,000 Poor and Vulnerable Households PVHHs in the State and that for civil servants otherwise known as GoHealth.
Dr. Isa Umar assured the government and people of Gombe State that the scheme will provide quality health care services to the citizens of the State.
In their seperate goowill messages, the State coordinator of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, Comrade Abdulkarim Musa Aliyu and the Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC Comrade Abdulmumini Bappayo scored the Gombe State Governor high for introducing the scheme as a precursor for attaining universal health coverage.
Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, alongside the Deputy Governor, Dr. Manassah Daniel Jatau, the Speaker Gombe State House of Assembly, Hon. Abubakar Mohammed Luggerewo as well as other top Government functionaries and traditional rulers led the way by becoming the first set to be enrolled in the Gombe State Contributory Healthcare Scheme (GoHealth).