Delta Governor, Mr, Ifeanyi Okowa, has called for the adoption and implementation of a viable and sustainable healthcare financing programme for states in the country.
He made this call on Thursday at the 40th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) with “Health Care Infrastructure Optimization and Adaptation in the face of a Global Pandemic: The COVID-19 Challenge” as a theme at Delta State University Teaching Hospital, Oghara.
Okowa said that with an abysmal 0.5 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in public health spending, Nigeria had one of the lowest public healthcare financings globally.
He also advocated for a national policy on responding and managing unforeseen public health crises
According to him, the absence of such a framework, as well as the novel nature of the coronavirus, posed a major drawback in articulating a coordinated response at the initial stage of the pandemic in the country.
The governor said that his administration had agreed to fund 80 per cent of the training requirements enshrined in the Residency Training Act (2017) as agreed with NARD and DELSUTH and urged the doctors to reciprocate the gesture with renewed vigour and commitment to their duties.
He commended medical doctors and healthcare providers for their courage, commitment and determination to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
He disclosed that Nigeria had survived COVID-19 and previous public health emergencies/outbreaks due to the sacrifice, dedication, ingenuity and resourcefulness of healthcare providers.
Okowa, however, said, “regrettably, many of them got infected during the pandemic while some, sadly, paid the supreme price”.
Welcoming delegates to the conference, he said “coming against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is my considered view that this meeting offers us a good opportunity to review the ongoing national efforts to combat the epidemic as well as assess our readiness to respond appropriately to future public health emergencies.
“I believe we can turn this crisis into an opportunity to bolster our health infrastructure, expand capacity and upgrade manpower in the health sector in such a way that our healthcare system will be better poised to deal with future outbreaks.
“Testing was a huge problem because of the shortage of human resources, testing kits, laboratories, and case definition for testing that prioritizes symptomatic cases and their contacts.