Ondo govt is transferring basic health centers to Rehoboth Foundation but Dr Owoyemi, argues this isn’t right
Health is a human right.
The Sustainable Development Goal 3 is aimed at ensuring healthcare for all and it is based on the concept of universal health coverage which is ensuring everyone can access the healthcare they need, when they need without financial risk.
Ondo state has made giant strides in healthcare over the past 8 years especially in the aspects of maternal and child mortality.
The health system has at its base 346 basic health centres spread across the state, this basic health centres are closest to the people and offer basic services for their healthcare needs, they have been beguiled by poor funding and poor human resource due to lack of attention by different administrations.
The present government recently signed an agreement with a certain Rehoboth foundation to transfer ownership of these basic health centres to them. It is important to note that there is no reportage of this momentous decision by the government, no official notification to the citizens before such was embarked upon.
Public private partnerships have neen advocated as means of improving and ensuring health delivery in the face of dwindling government income, increasing demands and need to improve service quality, but it is also advocated everywhere that the primary unit of Health delivery must be publicly funded to remove inequity of access.
Here are my few concerns and observations on this move.
- How and why was Rehoboth foundation chosen selected as the partner? What are the fine details?
- A research into Rehoboth foundation showed that they have no veritable health delivery expertise or experience, therefore handing over these public facilities to an organisation with no proven record in health delivery is not in the interest of the people
- There isn’t any obvious transparency in the process of arriving at this very important decision, it is at best not done in the interest of the people as it seems.
- The privatisation of such a significant health delivery vehicle in a state where over 90% are without health insurance will only worsen inequity
- In achieving universal health coverage (UHC), healthcare must be public fund driven, that is what has happened in countries that have had successes towards UHC. These basic health centres serve the poorest people, the base of pyramid citizens.
- The government should improve funding to this primary health unit, while also creating an atmosphere for any interested private health investor to setup, and not handing over this important primary health unit for their private use.
In summary, this privatisation of the basic health centres have not been done in the overall interests of the people of Ondo state and must be reversed immediately.
To improve on health access and healthcare delivery, the government must go the way of instituting state health insurance program, increase funding to health facilities closest to people, create an environment conducive to private investors, engage in PPP in health on some services and especially at the secondary and tertiary level.
This piece was contributed by Dr. Ayomide Owoyemi (M.B.Ch.B, Ife, MSc.PH, Lagos), he is a Carrington Youth Fellow