By Mfonobong Ukpong
Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Barr. Onofiok Luke has said that for Nigeria to access universal health coverage, the issue of policy summersault must be properly addressed.
Briefing course participants from the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS, Kuru near Jos on Tuesday during an interactive session at the House of Assembly complex, Uyo Speaker Luke noted that the country can only make meaningful progress in healthcare delivery and other sectoral development efforts if strong institutions were put in place to sustain and implement government policies and programs.
“Number one challenge we have is policy summersault. A new government will come with their new policy and jettison the policies of previous government, and the policies are jettisoned to the detriment of us all. A time has come that we begin to ensure strict compliance and sustainability of the policies we craft over a period of time, and that calls for strong institutions”.
Commending past governments and the current administration in the State for sustaining and improving healthcare delivery in the state, Barr. Luke told the NIPPS course 41 participants that the legislature in the state has been cooperating with the executive to push health care delivery in Akwa Ibom State.
“Long before today, governments in this state from the administration of Arch. Obong Victor Attah in1999 has paid premium to the healthcare of it’s citizens. There is Free and compulsory health program for the aged, pregnant women and children under 5. Attah introduced it and it worked, the former Governor, Akpabio took over and improved upon it.
Governor Udom Emmanuel having seen it’s workability decided to improve upon it and we decided as a legislature to move it from policy formulation to legislation”.
“We’ve backed up the free medical services which could be termed, health financing. The government has done a lot of work in the area of health infrastructural development. Health centres, hospitals are being renovated and equipped”.
Earlier, the team of the course participants from NIPSS, Rear Admiral Eluwa said they were in the state and specifically in the Assembly to understudy the contribution of the 6th assembly to health care delivery in the state. He informed the Speaker that the topic of focus for course participant being the “Funding of Universal Healthcare Delivery in Nigeria” was chosen by President, Muhammadu Buhari, which he noted was a demonstration of the regards the President has for healthcare delivery in the country.
“We have visited Ministries, Departments, and Agencies that formulate and implement policies. We have visited 12 states in the country to see how they manage healthcare delivery in those states with respect to funding.
In attendance during the courtesy call were, members of the House of Assembly, some members-elect and course participants from NIPSS including, the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Felicia Bassey, House Leader, Rt. Hon. Sir Udo Kierian Akpan, Chief Whip of the House, Hon. Emmanuel Ekpenyong, and Rt. Hon. Friday Iwok, Hon. Mark Esset, Hon. Usoro Akpanusoh, and Hon. Otobong Jonathan. Others include, Member-elect for Itu, Mr. Kufreabasi Edidem, Ukanafun, Member elect for Ukanafun, Dr. Charity Ido, and Mr. Ekwere(Member-elect for Mkpat-Enin), Clerk of the House, Mrs.Mandu Umoren, Deputy Clerk, Barr. Anietie Ekah.
Among the course participants were, the team Leader, Rear Admiral A. Eluwa, Ambassador Usman Sarki, Dr. Muritala Oke, Group Captain Ekomobong Akpabio, Musa A. Garba, Prof. Mohammed Mainowa, Mrs. Salamatu Abubakar and Barr. Balarabe Paloma.
Others include, Capt. Ahmed Rabiu, Gabriel Orjito, Dr. Dayo Ayooala, and Olufunke Jimi among others.