The Edo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Samuel Alli, has said the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led state government is prioritizing investment in the healthcare sector, focusing on the primary healthcare system, to improve the health expectancy of Edo citizens and enhance access to quality and efficient healthcare services.
The Commissioner, who spoke to journalists in Benin City, said the government has introduced the State’s Health Insurance Scheme to reduce out-of-pocket health expenditure and is strengthening the primary healthcare system to bring healthcare closer to the people.
He noted that the upgrade and revamp of health institutions in the State including the Stella Obasanjo and the Edo Specialist Hospitals and other reforms in the healthcare sector are aimed at repositioning the State as the healthcare hub of the nation.
According to him, “One of the key sectors that this government focuses on is the health sector because it’s a developmental programme and to carry this out, the governor has instituted reforms to improve the health expectancy of Edo citizens and improve their access to quality health care.
“Specifically, the Edo Health Insurance Scheme was launched for Edo State citizens to reduce the out-of-pocket health expenditure in the State. Before now, Edo State had one of the highest out-of-pocket expenditures in the whole country. The global average of health expenditure is supposed to be 20% of your income, but in Nigeria, it’s estimated to be about 75% and Edo State is 90%. So, you can see it’s even 15% more than the national average. That means a lot of healthcare expenditures are carried out by the people themselves.”
The Commissioner further noted, “In the past, there was a lot of quackery and malpractices in the system, accessibility and delivery of the healthcare system was poor. This gave birth to the Edo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, whose primary objective is actually to bring healthcare closer to the people.
“Before now, we had a very dilapidated primary healthcare system. But currently, 18 primary healthcare centres are being renovated and are to be completed by December. The target is at least to construct 45 in all.”
Dr. Alli added, “Coming to secondary and tertiary healthcare, we have the infrastructure upgrade in Edo Specialist Hospital which has been completed. The facility is well-equipped and has been running for the past four years now, providing quality services. It’s a multi-specialist hospital, and it’s able to provide a different range of services to our citizens.
“Work at the Stella Obasanjo Hospital is ongoing. It’s another multi-specialist hospital that will promote the state as a destination for medical tourism.
“To build capacity in the health sector, the Edo School of Nursing that was closed down for more than 10 years was renovated, refurbished and fully accredited to provide training for the personnel to drive the reforms in the healthcare sector. We are also looking at various hospitals across the state to see how we can upgrade these secondary healthcare hospitals and make them more functional than they currently are.”