By Salawudeen Olawale
Immediate past governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, has advised policy makers across Africa to make healthcare delivery a top priority by emplacing a performance-based mechanism that will see Africa overcoming its health challenges.
Mimiko gave the hints on Tuesday while delivering a keynote address on “The Future of Health Engagement with Nigeria” at the ongoing conference on Global Health by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC, United States of America where he addressed an audience including US government officials, health policy professionals, academics, and business representatives from across the world.
He noted that funding for primary healthcare, lack of data and political will, has been the major impediments to quality healthcare in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular.
Citing the Ondo State example, the former Governor disclosed that the huge and unprecedented result recorded in healthcare during his tenure was made possible by a combination of key factors such as the introduction of the Abiye Safe motherhood project, which ensured adequate funding for primary healthcare in spite of the dwindling resources, free healthcare services for pregnant women and children under 5, well-structured referral system, rewarding partnership with Traditional Birth Attendants and Faith-Based Clinics, good use of data, among others.
“When I assumed office in 2009, we needed to tackle the deepening social inequality and we found that only 2 percent of the state budget was allocated to health, we changed this and by 2016, we have moved to 14 per cent.
“We also gave incentives to healthcare providers and empowered them to be able to take decisions at the facility level to improve on their services. This has resulted in increased facility utilisation and quality healthcare.
“Another factor was passing into law a bill called Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths in Ondo State (CEMDOS) that penalises anyone who fails to report maternal death in the state and with that we were able to solve the problem of data. All of these factors resulted in an unprecedented achievement in the health sector that saw us setting the standard for Africa,” Mimiko said.
While rounding up his speech, the former governor said Nigeria is the investment destination in Africa and urged the international community not to turn its back on the country saying the challenges confronting Nigeria is peculiar to every growing nation.
According to him: “We cannot deny the fact that there are challenges in Nigeria as it is with every growing nation, but we have also been under-celebrated in some areas; If you study the Ebola curtailment phenomenon, you would understand Nigeria is a giant waiting to rise.”