Sectoral Goals in Glimpse (Health)

AMAZING GRACE SERIES 17

by Ubong Sampson

Medical intelligence and surveillance represent a very useful component in the health care system, especially regarding control of diseases outbreak, bioattack, etc. There is increasing role of automated-based medical intelligence and surveillance systems, in addition to the traditional manual pattern of document retrieval in advanced medical setting such as those in western and European countries. This is what the GOAL Project is currently understudying to see where it can be modified to suit the Nigerian, nay Akwa Ibom realities and when given the mandate, how it can be adopted and implemented towards boosting healthcare delivery and the health sector in the state. This approach in the GOALs proposes a plan that covers both facilities and workers at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels in the health sector.

The said GOALs proposes, basically, from the bottom–proper and adequate training for community health workers to globally required standard and upgrading of primary health centers to bear the features of proper health service facilities, to the top– providing secondary facilities with the needed human expertise and equipment to properly handle serious medical situations… and further compelling the tertiary facilites which are mostly private-owned to up, or in the least, maintain their standards and roles in complicated situations. To achieve this level of success in healthcare in this modern era, a system well grounded in routine surveillance and medical intelligence as the backbone of the health sector is necessary, besides adequate management and strong leadership principles.

With particular interest in tackling deficiencies in health consciousness among the rural population considered to be less literate and underprivileged in health education, the GOAL Project is considering, as solution, the upgrading the standard of training for health workers at the community level. As contained in the Universal Health Coverage Scheme, the minimum qualification for the lowest level level in the profession is a diploma certificate. For this reason, the Project believes in the possibility of recruiting the needed human resources and the provision of facilities to train and certify the community health workers at the universally required standard. This, the project believes, will help boost the spread of knowledge on preventive health measures, especially among these less literate population in the rural areas. And not disregarding the high level of disinterest on the part of health workers in serving at community health facilities and the negative effects of this, Project went digging to identify electric power, security and the lack of both, as reason. As a way of tackling this, the Project considers equipping these facilities to guarantee safety of the health workers in interior locations, as well as restore their confidence and commitment to their chosen area of public service.

With a focus on health system development, and emphasis on basic health services, the PHC bill sponsored by Luke and made law under his led sixth Akwa Ibom House of Assembly was prompted by the realized need to strengthen healthcare delivery system in the state in line with the Universal Health Coverage sometimes referred to as Universal Health Care, Universal Coverage, or Universal Care, which is defined as a health care system that provides health care and financial protection to all citizens. The Universal Health Coverage is organized around providing a specified package of benefits to all members of a society with the end goal of providing financial risk protection, improved access to health services, and improved health outcomes. With the bill passed into law, the state was just waiting for its implementation (beginning with the establishment of the Akwa Ibom State Primary Health Care Development Agency) to join the queue of subnationals in the country which then only had Jigawa (under Gunduma Health Board); Rivers (under Primary Healthcare Mgt Board- PHCMB); Lagos and Kano (under Primary Health Care Development Agency.

Now working and hoping on being given the mandate that will empower him to make policies and expend resources for the development of the state, the GOAL project has, as part of its plans, turning this passion into evident developmental strides in the Akwa Ibom state health sector. Understanding that the healthcare industry is one of the most hazardous environments to work in, with its employees constantly exposed to a complex variety of health and safety hazards in the course of their work coupled with the stress of long and stretching working hours, the goal project is of the consideration that initiating and effecting a boost in what constitute the welfare packages of these health workers will largely aid their sustainability. This consideration goes beyond the monetary aspect, to the mental and physical health of the workers. For instance, while working around the clock to meet expectations on public health needs, very little or no attention is given to the health needs of the workers. This is possibly due to the general view of the health workers as superhumans, and with ready access to health facilities. However, the GOAL Project understands that this view is far from the case in reality, hence, the need for what the Project terms THE DOCTORS’ DOCTOR and THE DOCTORS’ CLINIC— a development that will see to the recruitment of special health workers and facilities for health workers to help keep their mental and physical health in balanced states. With this development, Akwa Ibom will not only make history as the initiator, but will also show one workable solution to part of the problems in the country’s health sector.

Upon also noting that this sector in the country is still using the manual approach to keeping public health records, in a era when developed climes are discussing and operating medical artificial intelligence– sadly, constituting part of why the country is far behind in the global healthcare delivery standards, Project believes Akwa Ibom, despite being a sub-national unit, can set the pace by creating under the health ministry, a working central health information management system with a database where public health records can be stored and easily retrieved by merely keying in their personal identity details. The advantage of this is that a citizen can choose to change who provides them medical services without or the facility where they usually seek and get medicare without having to consult the former person or facility for their health records. This will also save the sector workers the stress of having to rummage heaps of manual files to access health information of patients.

Ending, without having him confess to this, I can guess the health sector to be one of the sectors that will enjoy impacting attention from the GOAL administration, trusting God that the gubernatorial ambition of Onofiok Luke becomes reality. This is so, not only because the sector is one of the very critical social sectors in governance, but as well because of the so much passionate interest man has overtime shown in this sector and its development; the empathy towards its workers, especially those at the lowest rum— community health workers can also add to this. His sponsored primary healthcare bill during the state assembly days, to the several voices of advocacy he lent to the development of the sector and improvement of workers’ welfare will pass as stark evidence in this regard. This, with his several other contributory efforts to healthcare development in the state, was loud enough to get the attention of the Aniekeme Uwah led Nigerian Medical Association – Akwa Ibom state branch which, apparently having seen in him a worthy partner in the championing of courses concerning health sector development in the state, had chosen to recognise his efforts by honouring him with an award.

AmazingGrace

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Ubong Sampson (08021419939) writes from Asaba, Delta State.

Wisdom Bassey

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