The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and some members of the House of Representatives have called for more actions to revive the dwindling fortunes of primary healthcare in the country.
They made the call in a communique at the end of a two-day retreat for members of relevant committees on revitalization of primary health care in Nigeria held in Owerri, Imo State and organised by the House of Representatives committees on Health and Appropriations in conjunction with CISLAC.
The retreat on Primary Health Care Revitalization in Nigeria was under the aegis of a project titled “Reinvestment: Increasing Legislative Oversight on Primary Health Care in Nigeria”.
It was aimed at providing an enabling platform for legislators to interact in proffering holistic solutions to the current trend and challenges confronting adequate, accessible and effective Primary Health Care system in the South East geo-political zone and also on the need to revitalize the system for high impact and efficiency.
The jointly adopted communique was signed by the Executive Director, CISLAC, Mallam Auwal Musa Rafsanjani and the Deputy Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on HIV, AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Control, Hon. Umar Abubakar.
Others were Hon. Henry Archibong, Hon. Henry Nwawuba, Hon. Igariwey Iduma Enwo, Hon. Pascal Obi, Hon. Ari Moh’d Abdulmumin, Hon. Martins Oke Hon. Olusola Fatoba, Hon. Abubakar Hassan Nalaraba and Hon. Ja’afaru Iliyasu.
Lawmakers, journalists and other participants visited the Umuorii-Uratta Health Care centre, Owerri North Local Government and Area L Health Centre, Owerri Municipal Local Government, Imo state for on the spot assessment of the centres.
There were also deliberations on various thematic issues including “Revitalizing Primary Healthcare: Understanding the Role of Legislature; Understanding the Minimum Standard for Adequate, Affordable and Accessible PHC in Nigeria; and PHC Revitalization in the 8th Assembly: The Legislative Gaps and Opportunities.
It was observed that while Primary Health Care (PHC) is the cornerstone of the health system, effective PHC services remain out of the reach of the people in many communities across the South-East, as observed in case of Umuorii-Uratta Health Care centre and Area L Health Centre.
It said that giving the ongoing budgetary process across various committees in the National Assembly, the retreat was strategically critical to educate legislative process in constructive scrutiny into the Appropriations processes.
It said that increasingly financial gap with resultant decreased budgetary allocation to health sector hampers efforts at achieving adequate, accessible and affordable Primary Health Care system in the country.
The forum said that capacity building remains paramount to enhance the legislator’s understanding of the critical issues for consideration in the Appropriations process.
“The existing poor coordination in the nation’s Primary Health Care system renders it inaccessible to effectively address about 80 percent disease burden and related health care expectations.
“In the revitalization of Primary Health Care, the legislators have such important roles as sufficient oversight on budgetary allocation, releases and implementation; women inclusiveness legislation; ensuring comprehensive healthcare package for constituents; appropriate community consultation in health policy implementation and transformation into legislation; assessment of the Primary Health Care efficiency in their respective consistencies,” it said.
It said that delayed private sector investment into PHC services, hampers effort at achieving equitable, affordable and accessible distribution of basic health care at grassroots level.
“Encouraging local technical know-how in the production of drugs, medical equipment and spare parts to improve supplies and maintenance capabilities for cost reduction and high efficiency; Discouraging medical tourism at all level through enable health care facilities and highly skilled health care personnel.
“Appropriate individual orientation and re-orientation by the National Orientation Agency about health care services, processes and procedures; Concerted effort by all stakeholders to revitalization of Primary Health Care for high efficiency and accessibility,” the forum said.
It said that holistic needs assessment of existence, functionality and availability of services in Primary Health Care centre across the zone to under areas of priority for interventions.
The Head of Communications, CISLAC, Mallam Abubakar Jimoh, said the present intervention was coming after the 2015 programme on “Child and Family Health” and that of 2018 was the first phase of the “Primary Health Care re-Vitalization” across the six geo-political zones of the country.