Health: Gombe residents now pre-plan for illnesses

From Abdulrazaq Mungadi, Gombe

As the need for social security continues to grow in Nigeria, the government of Gombe State introduced a contributory health scheme to help residents in the state to pre-plan for ailments.

According to the government, the social health program which is being managed by the Gombe State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency (GoHealth) was part of the state’s effort to support the global campaign on Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

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The agency was established after a legislative deliberation and a law that was signed by the state governor Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya soon after assuming office in 2019 and was mandated to ensure the attainment of UHC in the state.

Dr Abubakar Musa is the Executive Secretary (ES) of the agency, he told Daily Sun that GoHealth followed the decentralisation policy of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) that paved way for the creation of state Social Health Insurance Scheme across the country.

He explained that the aim was to ensure access to effective, quality and affordable healthcare services to all residents of the State: “through a credible and sustainable mechanism for pooling of resources to finance the healthcare services, and improve access to quality healthcare provision with financial risk protection”.

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Dr Abubakar assured that agencies such as GoHealth, families tend to be protected from the financial hardship that has to do with huge medical bills and reduce or limit the inflationary effects of the rise in the cost of healthcare services.

He added that the program would aid equitable distribution of health care costs across different income groups while also ensuring the provision of a high standard of health care delivery to the beneficiaries as well as improving and harnessing the private sector’s participation in the provision of health care services.

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Speaking on the journey so far, Dr Abubakar disclosed that GoHealth has accredited 109 healthcare providers in the last year of its establishment in the state and no fewer than 70 thousand lives that we have covered and are benefiting from the scheme.

“Compare to the entire population of Gombe state 70 thousand is negligible but seen that we are just about a year old, we hope that by the time we wrap up advocacy and sensitisation and people get to understand why they should participate in the scheme, we believe the enrolment rate is going to improve,” Dr Abubakar said during a meeting with a group of journalists in Gombe.

The ES said that the meeting was to engage and carry the media along as it plays a vital role in awareness creation. “We were gathered here today so that we will become advocates for the people of Gombe state to join GoHealth and you can only do that if you understand the concept of the various programs that the agency runs.

That was why we organised this capacity building for journalists to acquaint them with the operations of the agency”.

Malam Tanimu Umar, Director of Planning, Research and Statistics of the agency revealed that 61 private and 48 public healthcare providers had been accredited and that the certified facilities comprised 52 primary and 53 secondary health facilities as well as four tertiary healthcare institutions.

According to him, the secondary healthcare providers are recording 1,265 patients while referrals to tertiary institutions stood at 1,002 monthly, adding that quarterly assessments were being conducted across accredited facilities to enhance the delivery of quality healthcare services.

Tanimu listed high blood pressure, complicated malaria and Peptic ulcers as some of the common cases.

On his part, Alhassan Yahya, Executive Director of SAIF Advocacy Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), encouraged the journalists to champion the cause of GoHealth. He said: “Those that have not been registered need to key in because of the immense benefits attached to the scheme”.

He expressed optimism that Gombe State would achieve Universal Health Coverage in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) guidelines if the scheme is supported and sustained.

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