Ebonyi Govt. Flags Off Access To Insured Healthcare For Civil Servants

By Our Reporter, Abakaliki

The Governor of Ebonyi state, Chief Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru has restated his commitment to  the provision of quality and unhindered access to health services for the people of the state.

Governor Nwifuru made this known during the official flag-off of accrss to insured healthcare, codenamed 'Onwa Healthcare Scheme' at Remeritona Hotel, Abakaliki.

He disclosed that his administration is ready to offset five percent consolidated salary of the workers for the program. The scheme, which has enrolled 8,000 civil servants in the state, also accommodates children and wards of beneficiaries.

Represented at the flag-off ceremony by the state Deputy Governor, Patricia Obila, Nwifuru said the gesture was aimed at appreciating the workers for their hard work. He admonished them to take advantage of the gesture to take charge of their health and those of their families.

The present administration has made remarkable investments in the health sector, including the revamping of the 14 General Hospitals across the State, boosting the number of health workers, as well as improving welfare for doctors and other health workers in the state.

The Governor assured the workers that all the identified issues raised concerning the health insurance scheme would effectively be addressed to enable it to offer excellent healthcare services to the people of the state.

Speaking to Journalist after the flag off ceremony, the Executive Secretary, Ebonyi State Health Insurance Agency EBSHIA, Divine Igwe, disclosed that such a kind gesture has not happened anywhere else in the country and prayed for more wisdom upon the governor.

According to him, a total of 48,000 persons would benefit from the Onwa Oferekpe Healthcare Insurance Scheme which includes 8,000 workers, their spouses, and four children.

Also speaking, the state Head of Service, Ritamary Okoro, urged the workers to make good use of the opportunity to increase their overall health and productivity.

Earlier in his welcome speech, Commissioner for Health, Moses Ekuma, noted that the flag-off of the scheme for workers has solved the major problem of the state. He hinted that prior to the scheme, both civil and public servants in the state had been patronizing quacks and engaging in self-medication because of lack of funds.

In their separate good will messages, the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Professor Ogugua Egwu, and his counterpart of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Chidi Igboji, appreciated the Governor for the gesture, describing it as a dream come true for Ebonyi workers.

Egwu said: “We are highly elated that the dream of making healthcare affordable and accessible to all workers in Ebonyi State has become a reality as today we flag-off civil and public servants health insurance Programme (Onwa Healthcare).

“This is made possible courtesy of one of the numerous huge interventions made by His Excellency Right Honourable Francis Ogbonna Nwuifuru.”

The Labour leader, however, urged the government to address some identified issues that would enhance the effectiveness of the scheme, including the constitution of a Board for the Ebonyi State Health Insurance Agency, EBSHIA.

They equally called for inclusion of staff of local Government into the scheme.

He also drew attention to some lapses in the law establishing the scheme such as the nonspecification of contributory roles of the employer and employee, among others, and called on the government to quickly address them.

Others who delivered messages including the Head of Service, Dr. Ritamary Okoro; the Director-General of the National Health Insurance Agency, Dr. Kelechi Ohiri as well as the State Director of USAID-IHP, Dr. Oladipo Akinmade, appreciated the state government for the bold step.

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