The Akwa Ibom State Health Insurance Scheme and security of health facilities were the major discussions at the opening ceremony of the 2022 Annual General Meeting of doctors under the auspices of National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMDP), Akwa Ibom State Branch.
The AGM tagged “AGM of Impact” with the theme “Akwa Ibom State Health Insurance Scheme: The Game Changer” and the sub-theme “Strengthening Security Around Health Facilities” is holding in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State Capital.
In his address at the opening ceremony on Tuesday, Dr Enobong Akpan, the state chairman of NAGGMDP, said that the AGM was particularly important because it aimed at addressing very critical issues in the health sector and healthcare service delivery in Akwa Ibom State.
Dr Akpan stated that the themes of the AGM were carefully selected to provide doctors and other relevant stakeholders in the medical profession the opportunity to discuss prevailing issues in the health sector and proffer possible solutions.
“One of the challenges of achieving the universal health coverage regime of the World Health Organisation is burdened on the implementation of the health insurance scheme in our State and placing Primary Health Care at the global, national and subnational agendas,” he said.
He emphasised that the place of security in achieving the set target of global health coverage would mean nothing if the security of lives and properties is not prioritised in the country and state, adding that it is essential to have a well-structured security system around health facilities.
“By the end of this event, we are sure that appropriate measures shall be put to action to strengthen security in all the health facilities in the state,” Dr Akpan added.
He commended the state governor, Udom Emmanuel for the massive investments in the health sector, adding that through the governor’s magnanimity, NAGGMDP under his leadership has recorded laudable successes.
On his part, the chairman, Local Organising Committee, Dr Ifiok Etim noted that the AGM was an opportunity for doctors under the state employ to reflect on the year’s activities, brainstorm on current health challenges and proffer lasting solutions going forward.
The LOC chairman further noted that the event will also afford the doctors the opportunity to explore avenues of giving back to the society through sharing of ideas and collaboration with good spirited individuals.
“We will explore options such as free medical/surgical outreach to communities, sensitisation of the general public on prevalent health challenges and ways to prevent them.
“This AGM also serves as a wakeup call to us Doctors under the umbrella of NAGGMDP and indeed other health professionals of the need to deepen our commitment to service, through promptness to work, change in attitude towards colleagues, patients and the community at large. The concept of patient centered care should guide our daily actions.
“Let me also remind us of the November 28th, 207 Revised Declaration of Geneva – (A modern day physician pledge) which states “I will attend to my own health, wellbeing and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard”. Consequently, we are charged as doctors to recognise the importance of self-care in order to achieve greater productivity,” Dr Etim said.
He urged doctors and other medical professionals to engage in continuous self-development in order to stay abreast with global best practices.
Earlier in his brief opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Dr Iniobong Essien advised doctors to leverage the opportunity of the AGM to brainstorm on issues and challenges facing the health sector as well as ways of making the best use of the opportunities provided by the developmental strides of the state government in the sector.
In her goodwill message, the state chairman of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Emem Abraham emphasised the need for doctors under the state employ to be more dedicated and committed to their job, adding that their duty as medical practitioners puts the lives of people at their mercy.
Dr Martin Akpan, Chairman, Governing Board of Akwa Ibom State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (AKSPHCDA), in his lecture on “Akwa Ibom State Health Insurance Scheme: The Game Changer”, said that Nigeria’s predicament is rooted in a plurality of intertwining factors, some of which include widespread poverty, escalating cost of health care and an astronomically large population.
He however noted that the National Health Insurance Authority recently established by Act No. 17 has several salutary provisions which include the fact that health insurance will henceforth be mandatory for every Nigerian and legal resident unlike in the past when it was limited to Federal Government employees and private sector businesses with 10 or more workers.
Dr Martin revealed that a mechanism has been put in place for ensuring that the basic health care needs of indigents and vulnerable persons are effectively addressed through the Vulnerable Group Fund (VGF), among other provisions.
According to him, with the provisions, it is believed that the National Health Insurance Policy will be effectively implemented to facilitate the attainment of universal health coverage in Nigeria in record time.
“The adoption of a co-financed social health insurance scheme facilitated by the Government of the sub-national such as what is proposed in Akwa Ibom state has proven and multiple benefits that transcends the health sector to the larger economy,” he said.
“Let me say now with invincible confidence and without equivocation that social health insurance plan is a potential game changer and its adoption will definitely usher in a revolution in the Completion Agenda of this administration.
“The stage is fully set for this to happen since His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel has already given his accent to the SHIS Law earlier passed by the State House of Assembly. And knowing His Excellency’s passion for the health sector, it would not be difficult to predict the establishment of the State Health Insurance Agency and the formal institutionalization of the scheme in a matter of weeks.
“I make bold to say that the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, which is also the brainchild of His Excellency, has laid the necessary groundwork for this through a multiplicity of ways, the most important of which is the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) which our State is now enjoying.
“To date, 329 primary health facilities are eligible to receiving regular predictable direct facility financing from the Fund.
“Besides, the Agency has set up requisite structures and platforms at various levels to facilitate the full implementation of the WARD HEALTH SYSTEM, which is the current national strategic thrust for delivery of PHC services in Nigeria, to ensure that at least one primary health centre is made functional in each political ward to serve as an upward referral facility in that ward.
“At the Local Government level, we have set up the Local Government Health Authorities with the full complement of their Advisory Committees and Management Teams as required by the NPHCDA, while Ward and Village Development Committees have been reactivated in the various communities of the State.
“By the time the SHIS comes into effect, our State, will be entitled to 50% of the BHCPF in addition to the 45% which it is currently receiving through the primary healthcare gateway.
“The overall goal is to reduce out-of-pocket health spending from the current high level of almost 90% to not > 20% and to increase the risk-pooling from the current 2-7% to at least 75-80% – all in a bid to expand the fiscal space, liberalize healthcare for all and meet the global target of UHC.”
He noted that the establishment of Akwa Ibom State Health Insurance Agency and the operationalization of the scheme will bring overwhelming benefits to the government and the people alike.
The state police spokesperson, Odiko MacDon, in his lecture on the sub-theme “Strengthening Security Around Health Facilities”, emphasised the need for doctors and other medical professionals to always be security conscious.
In his speech, the father of the day, Dr. Edmundson Thompson Akpabio, who was pioneer chairman of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and the only Akwa Ibomite to ever rose to the position of the National President of NMA, appreciated the leadership of NAGGMDP and the LOC for a well organised event.
Pa Edmondson Akpabio further admitted that the the medical profession has evolved significantly from what is used during his days in practice.
“In the early days of Doctors’ Associations, they were seen to be anti-government, then were later seen as friends of the government. Now the stage is set for Doctors’ Associations all over the world to be the Government”.
Pa Akpabio, 88, emphasised that it was important for doctors to become part of the government institutions that make policies affecting the health sector.
Dr Aniekeme Uwah, a former state chairman of NMA, delivered a goodwill message on behalf of the National President of NMA. Highpoint of the event was the presentation of merit awards to outstanding personalities.