The Bayelsa State Government has inaugurated the state Primary Health Care Board as part of the measures to tackle the high incidence of infant and maternal mortality in the state.
The Deputy Governor of the state, Rear Admiral John Jonah (retd.), performed the opening of the BYPHCB, located opposite the Ministry of Works and Infrastructures in Yenagoa, the state capital.
Jonah believed that with the inauguration of the board to coordinate the activities of primary healthcare in the local government areas of the state, health issues at the grassroots would be redressed.
He expressed sadness that Nigeria as a country had not been doing very well in that direction, saying that “when we get peer group review of contemporary countries, even in the West African subregion, some other countries fare better than us.
“In the case of Bayelsa, I think the performance has been abysmal, that is why the Governor, Seriake Dickson, came very strongly, on how we can redress it at the shortest possible time. We have started; a board has been inaugurated, which is the requirement. Of course, there must be a central area for the management of the activities.
“We have always been complaining that the health care workers at the local government areas have not been performing very well.
“We know that they were not going to work regularly but if you see the salary bill of the LGAs, the health care workers take a large chunk and we are happy that now, they will be supervised by line officers, people who have practised the trade before their coming, we expect that output will be far better than what it had been before.
“So, it is a requirement at the national level, I think we have conformed with the national requirement. By conforming, it is expected that we will be attracting some assistance as well to make sure that the effort is worthwhile.”
Also speaking at the inauguration, the Chairman, BYPHCB, Dr. Victoria Denenu, said the setting up of the board, it had in conjunction with the state government, the Ministry of Health, organised the 1st state infant/maternal mortality and safe motherhood summit in July.
She said the board had set up modalities for the registration of all pregnant women in all the eight local government areas of the state and to carry out advocacy visits, sensitisation and payment of allowances to all pregnant women in the state to ensure safe delivery and zero level infant and maternal death rate in the state.
Denenu said the board had had two visits from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and the state’s score had gone up from five per cent to 45 per cent.
She stated, “The board has held 11 board meetings to ensure the successful take-off of the state PHCB. As per the law establishing the BYUPHCB 2018 Section 58 page 30, we are working with the Ministry of the Local Government Administration and the state Local Government Service Commission to ensure the transfer or secondment of all critical healthcare staff of the Ministry of Health, MLG and LGC, including their emoluments to the board.
“Bayelsa State being one of the last states in the nation to inaugurate the state Primary Health Care Board is working in collaboration with key stakeholders to ensure the full implementation of the ‘Primary Health Care Under One Roof’, a policy by the Federal Government to bring all PHC services under one authority for both management, one plan, one monitoring and evaluation system to reduce fragmentation of PHC management and service delivery, backed by the National Health Act of 2014.”
Denenu, while thanking the state government for providing the office complex, also appealed to the government that the board required a bigger office accommodation to accommodate all their departments and donor agencies such as WHO, UNICEF, among others.