By Adamu Abubakar Kumo
Before the coming of the incumbent government in 2019, the health sector in Gombe State was in moribund condition owing to the inadequate infrastructure and lack of basic medical equipment and manpower which deprived the majority of the people of quality healthcare services. Consequently, Governor Inuwa Yahaya (Dan Majen Gombe) made it a priority in his campaign manifesto where he promised to “proactively implement strategies to achieve universal health coverage in Gombe State using Primary Health Care as the cornerstone by increasing access to efficient, qualitative and affordable healthcare services and ensuring availability of essential drugs and vaccines throughout the state.”
In just two years in office, Governor Inuwa Yahaya’s midterm scorecard has revealed that, out of the 31 promises made to improve healthcare services to the people, he delivered 30; that is about 96.8% of the promises. This unprecedented achievement has exponentially increased the overall availability, accessibility and quality of healthcare services in the state.
Considering the central role Gombe State Primary Health Care Development Agency (GSPHCDA) plays in the provision of healthcare services to the grassroots, Governor Yahaya increased funding for the agency to enable it deliver on its mandate. However, the people’s governor fully implemented the primary health care under One Roof National Policy, resuscitated the State Task Force on Immunization and Primary Healthcare and Increased capital allocation to the Primary Healthcare Development Agency by 49% in 2020 and 30% in 2021. Similarly, all outstanding counterparts funding for healthcare interventions were settled.
Taking facilities near to the people for easy accessibility, Gombe State Government under the leadership of Governor Yahaya revitalized at least one Primary Health Care Centre in each of the 114 wards of the state to deliver quality health care to the people at the grassroots level. In each of the revitalized PHC’s, the government installed motorized solar powered boreholes and doctors, nurses and other medical staff posted.
In its effort to adopt the Performance Based Financing (PBF) approach as a state policy for the strengthening of the PHC system, the government provided counterpart funding to the tune of N605 million to the NSHIP project which was extended to all the eleven local government areas of the state as against only six local government benefiting from the programme previously.
Catastrophic health expenditure has been one of the impediments to effective service delivery. To provide financial protection against this hiccup, the government created a Contributory Health Insurance Scheme and Community-Based Health Insurance (CBHI) for the informal sector in the state. The Gombe State Contributory Health Scheme (tagged Go-Health) employs a Sector-Wide Approach (SWAP) basket funding strategy in providing financial risk protection against spiraling health expenditures. About 70,000 beneficiaries enrolled into the programme.
Maternal, new-born and child health care services have also received needed attention. The state enrolled 25,565 vulnerable individuals including women and children into the Basic Health Care Provision Fund to save and ensure healthcare delivery for all groups in the society without discrimination. This has helped in reducing the maternal, infant, and child mortality rates in the state.
Another visible achievement of Inuwa Yahaya led-Administration in the health sector is building and equipping additional general and cottage hospitals in deserving communities across rural and urban areas of the state. Hospitals in Nafada, Malam Sidi, Bojude and Kwami are being revitalized. The upgrade, remodeling and modernization of the State Specialist Hospital as well the general hospitals in Bajoga, Kumo and Kaltungo towns, representing the 3 senatorial districts is undoubtedly a giant leap in the history of the healthcare system in the jewel state..
Towards ensuring effective health institutions are put in place, the Inuwa-led Government established a Hospital Services Management Board for effective management of the secondary health facilities in the state in 2020. This is another giant stride that is changing the ugly face of the health system in Gombe State.
With a view to attracting additional support and development aid in the state, the government actively engaged major development partners in the country and abroad. This has increased and strengthened collaboration and commitment with multilateral, bilateral, national international NGOs, the effort that is yielding positive results in the health care system in Gombe State.
The government collaborated with Accelerating Nutrition Results In Nigeria (ANRiN) and sponsored retreat on budget and release of funds for nutrition activities in the state in. In May, 2021, the governor bags ‘he Child Nutrition Champion Award’ from the international society of media in public health in recognition of his administration’s disposition towards tackling the menace of malnutrition among children in the state. Recently, Governor Yahaya approved the production of complementary food for 22,000 malnourished children to save them from acute malnutrition and other related health challenges.
These notable, provable and verifiable achievements of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya in the health sector in less than three years are justification of his dexterity and strong determination to build Gombe State of our dream; where all have access to affordable, accessible and qualitative healthcare services.