Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Thursday, 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 called for the adoption and implementation of a viable and sustainable healthcare financing programme for states in Nigeria.
Okowa made the call at the 40th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, with the theme; “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.
While advocating for a national policy on responding and managing unforeseen public health crises, he said 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.
He said 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.
Okowa 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”.
Chairman of the occasion and former Governor of Delta, Chief James Ibori, in his remarks, commended Governor Okowa and former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for conceiving the idea of building the teaching hospital in Oghara.
On his part, Uduaghan, who was Guest of Honour at the event, congratulated NARD for their dexterity in being the “military arm of NMA”, commending Governor Okowa for approving the Residency Training Programme for doctors in the state.
National President of NARD, Dr Aliu Sokomba, represented by First Vice President, Dr Julian Ojebo said the pandemic had brought a new challenge to medical practice in a very poorly funded health industry in Nigeria.
He said NARD fought to ensure domestication of the Residency Training Act and lauded the contributions of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to the National Health Act as well as his pioneering efforts towards domestication of the Residency Training Act.
President of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Prof Innocent Ujah, in his goodwill message said NARD has evolved over the years to become vibrant, progressive and a dynamic affiliate of the NMA.