..As Training for Ward Development Committee Commences
By Ekemini Simon
Connected Development (CODE), a Civil Society Organization working on project tracking has decried the inability of Akwa Ibom State Government to have accessed the Basic Health Care Provision Funds (BHCPF) amounting to over N200 million for Akwa Ibom State between 2018 till date.
The Akwa Ibom State Government failed to access the fund after failure to play its counterpart role as a demand for access to the BHCPF.
It could be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 rolled out the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) appropriated by the National Assembly in the 2018 budget.
The BHCPF is the one per cent of the federal government Consolidated Revenue and contributions from donor grants set aside to fund the basic health needs of Nigerians.
It is the fundamental funding provision under the National Health Act and was appropriated for the first time in the 2018 budget since the Act was signed in 2014.
At commencement, the federal government earmarked N55 .1 billion for the CRF to the basket fund of the BHCPF, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributed $2 million.
The Global Financing Facility (GFF) had also committed $20 million to the fund, while the Department for International Development (DFID) committed to contribute 50 million pounds sterling for five years since 2018.
However, Akwa Ibom State Government through the Primary Healthcare Development Agency after three years the programme has been in operation commenced the process of her counterpart role in the second quarter of 2021.
While briefing the media during the organization’s monitoring of the training exercise for Primary Health Ward Development Committee, in Oruk Anam local government area, the State Lead of Connected Development, Ubong Ekpe lamented the delay by the State Government in implementing her counterpart role thus denied the State from benefitting from the Basic Health Care Provision Funds (BHCPF) which he said is over N200 million for Akwa Ibom State.
Ekpe said since the training is one of the requirements to be met for the state to start receiving her share of the funds, the State should have started the process earlier like other States in the country.
He said CODE had to visit the training centres to be sure the process has commenced and the State would start benefiting from the funds.
The State Lead added “Due to the inability of the State to meet the requirement to attract the 1 Percent Consolidated Revenue Fund of over N200m in the last 3 years from 2018 to date in Akwa Ibom State, we had earlier paid an advocacy visit to the Primary Healthcare Development Agency which the Executive Secretary said the State has made concerted effort to meet the requirement.
“One of the requirement is that the Agency must train healthcare personnel at the grassroots level. All the wards have to give four representatives for the training. This is Oruk Anam and Ukanafun merging for the training.”
Ekpe advised that when Government carries out development projects, there is need for the Civil Society and the media to be carried along for the people to know in real terms what government is doing to improve the lots of Citizens.
He assured that Connected Development will follow the project to ensure implementation is in line with the project design.
In an interview, participants in the training thanked the State Government over the training.
In their respective position, Hon Paul Udofia, from Ikot Akpan Essien, Oruk Anam, Chairman, Ime Johnson, Staff Nurse Midwife from the area noted that the state of primary healthcare in their domain is deplorable. They however expressed optimism that if properly implemented, Basic Health Care Provision Funds will help ameliorate poor health facilities, inadequate health personal and unavailability of essential drugs in the primary healthcare facilities.
On the part of Director, Primary Healthcare, Oruk Anam, Nseobong Ediene, who also served as one of the trainers, she recommended that trainings like this must be sustained at quarterly basis or yearly.
She added ” The Healthcare system in the primary healthcare level has been poor. Now, through the training, we have discovered that it would be addressed.People now know that Governorment still think about them. The Ward Development Committee put in place will support the primary health facilities”.
Earlier on her part, the Executive Secretary of Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Eno Attah, offered insight to the fact that the training is a cascade of stepdown training particularly directed at community members who make up the Ward Development Committees as well as the officers in charge of the different health facilities across the State.
She said beneficiaries of the training are four per ward which comprise of Health Officer in Charge of the Primary Healthcare facility and Deputy coupled with two representatives from the community to make up the Ward Development Committees.
Attah said across the State, 1316 persons are trained to promote primary healthcare.
She added ” As for the Basic Health Care Provision Funds, whatever fund that is contributed is now shared among the 36 States plus FCT. That is how it is taken down. 100 percent is now split further, 50 percent for National Health Insurance gateway, 45 percent for the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency gateway then 5 Percent for Emergency. What we get at the State Primary Healthcare level is 45 per cent of the fund.
“Once the Executive Governor express interest that Akwa Ibom State wants to be a part of the programme and puts money in terms of the counterpart fund, then the State will partake of the fund. We got to the level where we were told this is the portion of fund that had been allocated to you from the divisions made.
“Some States have already benefited from the fund. We have the funds sitting in the Treasury Single Account (TSA) through Central Bank. The funds are there. To do the things required to access these funds, this is part of what we are doing here. This is practically one of the last steps for the State to fulfil. Since June, we have been going to one training, engagement after the other.
” We started in June with the baseline assessment of all the facilities we have. This is done so that once the funds come in, we know the before and see what the after is like.”
Attah assured that the selection process for the trainees is in line with laid down guidance. She explained that the reason provision is made for Community members to be included in the Committee is for Community ownership and protection of the primary health facilities.
“With members of the Community, we won’t have vandalization of the facility or wrong use of funds where you spend on something that you already have. From the community we have the Chairman and the Treasurer.
“After the training, they will set up a bank account in a commercial bank and it will be verified. They won’t use existing account. They will give a business and action plan. The money will get to them directly.
“We will monitor them by supervising them. They will tell us what they will disburse the money on in accordance with the business plan which we have also. If they deviate, we won’t allow them to proceed.”
The Primary Healthcare Executive Secretary assured that the fund will serve as a catalyst to the development of Primary Healthcare. She added ” We know the fund will not take care of everything. However, It is an addition to what government intends to do for the people. Now, these health care facilities can get ad-hoc staff and they will have a little stipend for runnings”.