The administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has approved the monthly contribution of N8.5 million as counterpart fund for the Free Maternal and Child Health programme designed to provide primary healthcare to pregnant women at the grassroots and children under the age of five years.
The programme, which has been in existence since the past government, according to the Commissioner for Health, Fintan Ekochin, who briefed journalists after the meeting of the State Executive Council (EXCO) was being funded by the local governments in Enugu State through a monthly contribution of N8.5 million.
Mr Ekochin said that the council noted that the amount being contributed by local governments to fund the programme was not sufficient to provide treatment to all the pregnant women and children under five years at the primary health centres, and decided to approve additional N8.5 million monthly, totaling N17 million every month for effective and efficient healthcare services in the rural areas.
Describing the council’s N8.5 million approval as “one of the greatest approvals in the history of Enugu State,” the health commissioner disclosed that the counterpart fund will provide succour to “our teeming young mothers, who were unable to afford better healthcare services when pregnant and also all the children in the rural areas who are under five with a lot of childhood challenges in the health area”.
He stated that the new approved funding was a prelude to better things to come in the primary healthcare delivery in the state, saying: “With this funding approved, the Enugu State Primary Healthcare Development Agency in line with federal guidelines, is going to commence repositioning, refurbishing and reactivation of primary healthcare centres”.
Dr. Ekochin further stated that the programme implementation will come in three phases, explaining that the first phase will be the establishment of flagship primary health centres in the three senatorial districts of the state, while the second and third phases will be focused on having one and two healthcare centres in ten local governments, respectively.
“Now with all these primary healthcare centres repositioned, you can imagine the ease and comfort women who are pregnant and children under five will have accessing the free maternal and child health programme.
“This is why EXCO approval of counterpart funding is really a big deal. This funding puts Enugu State in a very big position to fulfill the World Health mandate of universal health coverage, and kudos must therefore, go to His Excellency, our dear Governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for this positive step towards qualitative and affordable healthcare delivery in Enugu State,” the health commissioner said.
In a related development, Mr Ekochin also told journalists that following the mandate given to the Federal Ministry of Health to set up a National Steering Committee to evaluate the implementation of the Regional Disease Surveillance (REDIS) Project, Enugu State was selected to represent the South-east geo-political zone in the committee.
He equally added that accreditation has been granted and restored to the School of Basic Midwifery, Awgu, Awgu L.G.A and School of Nursing and Midwifery, Bishop Shanahan Hospital Nsukka, Nsukka L.G.A, respectively, by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
The commissioner explained that Mr Ugwuanyi’s administration in its concerted effort to ensure that the midwifery school in Awgu was accredited approved N35 million in the third quarter of 2017 for the accreditation exercise.
Mr Ekochin also disclosed that the state government has been regular in the payment of counterpart bill for the Bishop Shanahan Hospital, Nsukka, which contributed highly to the restoration of accreditation to the health institution’s School of Nursing and Midwifery.
Highlighting the significance of the achievement, the commissioner stated that it will increase the number of skilled birth attendants in the state, especially in rural areas and lead to further decline in maternal death during delivery.