TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE writes on the transformation of the Osun State health sector by the Gboyega Oyetola-led administration
There is a popular notion that health is wealth and this notion is one of the reasons why it is expected that health should be one of the programmes of any government that has the welfare of its citizens at heart. And one of the medium which government uses to touch people, especially at the grassroots level is primary health care system.
The primary healthcare system is the nearest to the people, especially the downtrodden and the less privileged, and it is expected to be the haven where they find succor in cases of medical emergencies. This however is not the case in some parts of the country as primary health care centres across the country usually appear in the form of deteriorating edifice without personnel or medical facilities to allow it play its role and meet the needs of the people.
Without any iota of doubt, the state of primary health care centres in many parts of Nigeria reveals the rot in the nation’s health sector. But as the nation works towards revitalizing its health sector, some states are not left behind and they are putting every measure in place to ensure that they meet the health need of their citizens. One of the states that that have started massive resuscitation of its primary health care centres is Osun.
The state has 1,020 Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs) out of which only 876 were functional, but majority of the functional ones were just buildings that could not meet the medical needs of the people in the communities as they had no facilities to do what was required of them.
And though previous administrations in the state tried and made effort toward making a change in the health sector, things did not look up and there was still a huge vacuum to fill in terms of access to basic care especially in rural communities within the state until the Governor Gboyega Oyetola administration geared its efforts at working on the health centres with a view to keep its electioneering promises to the people of the state.
When the Saving One Million Lives Programme for Results (SOMLP for R), in Osun State came second in the 2018 national SMART Survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics in conjunction with the World Bank and the state got a financial reward of $20.5 million, Governor Oyetola dedicated the fund towards revamping the health sector in the state, employing a holistic approach to turn around the health sector in the state.
For this to be smoothly coordinated, he set up a special committee on health revitalization which he heads himself with other members, who includes the Supervisor for Works, Engr. Remi Omowaye; Hon Bola Oyebamiji, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu and Dr. Simone Afolayan to monitor the renovation, revitalization and upgrading of 332 focal Primary Health Care centers, which must entail one each in every ward in the state, for the delivery of basic healthcare.
The project includes provision of necessary equipment, provision of full medical personnel; provisions of bore holes to all the focal Primary Healthcare Centres to serve beneficiary communities and provision of toilet facilities among others.
It was gathered that aside the 100 Primary Healthcare Centres completed, 147 Primary Healthcare Centres are under renovation, while the last 75 are about to be awarded to indigenous contactors. In addition, the overhaul was extended to Secondary Health Care Centres; some General Hospitals were awarded for renovation; Ejigbo and Ifetedo renovations are 85 per cent completed, contract has been awarded for the construction of a 120 beds ward and 30 flats doctor’s quarter at the state specialist hospital Asubiaro, the theater complex, blood bank, laboratory complex and hope clinic of the State hospital are also under renovation while a security wall is being constructed to ensure security and safety of the staff and patient.
A staff of the Ministry of Health, who identified himself as Boladale, explained that the project supported the State Primary Health Care Board with two Hilux vehicles while the secretariat of the board is also under renovation to enhance the supervisory and monitoring capability of the board while the government has equally set up Osun Health Insurance Scheme to drive the state health insurance with the release of more than N500 million to the agency to ensure provisions of Health insurance for indigent citizens.
And with the commissioning of 100 out of 332 Primary Health Care centres being revitalized and rehabilitated under the SOMLP for R across the state, people in the beneficiary communities seem to be enjoying a new lease of life in terms of medical services and health care delivery as the health centres are no longer ordinary buildings without value but neat centres that are equipped for the business of saving lives.
Speaking on the effect of the rehabilitation on people, a resident of Sabo in Osogbo, Mrs. Kolapo Olajumoke, said since Governor Oyetola came on board, they have experienced a change in fortune in terms of healthcare.
Her words: “I have been in this Sabo community for over 20 years and this health centre had always been here but it was just there as a symbol, not a functional entity until recently. It has changed drastically and I can tell you it is for the better; before, this place had no chairs, no medication to give us, the nurses were just trying to improvise out of love, it was difficult for them to administer first aid and we didn’t even know we had a clinic here because we had to go out of the community for treatment. It was that bad and the structure was nothing to write about. But when Governor Gboyega Oyetola came on board, we have experienced a change in fortune in terms of healthcare.
“Aside the renovation, we now have adequate care, the services have gone beyond first aid and cleaning of wounds, there is now antenatal and delivery services, they take care of the sick and they get medication. It is not just a fine structure now, services also improved and they now have more personnel and do shifts, so we now come in anytime of the day. They also gave the community through the health centre; it is just like the renovation of the health centre has given us a new lease of life in the community.”
Also speaking, a medical practitioner and Officer-In –Charge 2 at the Sabo health centre, Usman Bisi Adeyemi, stated that the Sabo PHC serves about 30, 000 people but was not equipped for effective service delivery until recently.
“Since the health centre got renovated, things have changed and we are also happy as medical officers here because we now have people trooping into the centre and we are able to treat them. In few weeks, we have an enrollment figure of about 290 which is high for a centre that had no one coming in before it was renovated, no one comes in here, even you will not be able to stay or look around as you did, the situation was terrible but now, we are at the standard we are supposed to be, we are touching lives and giving them the basic care they require,” he said.
The rehabilitation was not limited to the state capital; it cuts across every ward in the state and has restored the confidence of people in the health system of the state. And the people have continued to express their joy at the turn in fortunes.
While expressing satisfaction with the health sector in State of Osun, a resident of Ikire, Muili Rukayat, disclosed that: “We have been looking forward to government remembering us here. When we were told we are one of the health centres to be overhauled, we were ecstatic and expectations were high among the people and we are happy that our expectations were not cut short; now, the clinic environment is conducive for medical activities, we now have a structure that promotes hygiene and is friendly to users and people are now trooping in for treatment. We are indeed grateful,”
Another resident who spoke on condition of anonymous stated that: “We can say that the health centre now have government presence. Before, we don’t go there but now, we do not need invitation, we can see by ourselves that things have changed and we thank God that government decided to overhaul the health sector. We now enjoy the benefit of having a health centre in our community. And we even fetch water from the health centre now that is good for us.”
For many people in the beneficiary communities, getting a reliable source of potable water in addition to effective healthcare is good fortune that they cannot appreciate enough. And to tem, it has given their communities a new lease of life.
And as other communities await the commissioning and revitalisation of PHCs in their communities, many are thanking government for the effort and asking that they do more to further enrich the lives of residents in rural communities.