PHC Reforms: The road map to better health care services
By Eghosa Emily
Primary Health Care (PHC) like the name implies is the basic health care at your service before moving on to a specialized level which is the Secondary Health Care if necessary. Primary Health Care is the pillar of health care across the world. Therefore, the importance of Primary Health Care cannot be overemphasized. In this regard, it is safe to say that there is a huge difference between the Primary Health Care and Secondary Health Care.
Before now, most people neglect the primary health care and move straight to the secondary health care which in certain cases jeopardizes their chances of appropriate care, diagnosis, survival or even overcoming an ailment by their erroneous action of skipping preliminary and basic care which the Primary Health Care is noted for. However, the Edo State Government in line with the M.E.G.A agenda is prioritizing Primary Health Care especially as it affects the people directly and is also an entry point in getting health services. In line with this, the Edo State Primary Health Care Development Agency (EDSPHCDA) has rolled out various developmental strategies to revamp and improve the Primary Health Care Centres across the State.
According to the Executive Secretary, EDSPHCDA, Dr. Omosigho Izedonmwen in an interview with press men in his office in Benin City, the developmental strategies are hinged on five pillars which are: Community Participation, Infrastructure/Equipment Efficiency, Manpower, Drug Reform and Leadership/Governance Structure. These, he said, forms the broad base on which these reforms are positioned and to link all these, technology is key.
Dr. Izedonmwen further expatiated on each of the pillars starting with the community participation where Local Health Authorities were set up across the Eighteen Local Government Areas which has the Primary Health Care Coordinators as its secretary to oversee the daily mobilization of resources under various ward development committees thereby making the community responsible for their own health and situate whatever challenges they have and proffer solutions. This continuous engagement is a base for establishing good health plan.
Another pillar discussed is the Infrastructural/Equipment Efficiency which is also experiencing reforms. In terms of infrastructure, there ought to be at least 1 primary health care centre in each ward which sums up to 192 but in order to meet up with this standard, 55 were picked and distributed according to the location population of Edo State. Having discovered a huge number of deficient and malfunctioning equipment leading to inadequate care of patients, the government swung into action to commence the refurbishing and maintenance of existing structures and equipment for use before the end of June, 2023 as a result of the pressure in accessing Health Care in Edo south as a result of the relocation of Central Hospital. Also before the end of the year, it is expected that 55 beautiful, well equipped and well-staffed Primary Health Care Centres would be ready for optimal use.
Similarly, the Executive Secretary made known that over 300 members of staff had been trained while there is an ongoing recruitment process where the applicants would be required to be successful in the computer-based test before facing the panel for their interviews. All these are to cover the numerical and knowledge gaps noticed in the manpower aspect of Primary Health Care development. With the drug revolving programme still in progress, the EDSPHCDA has engaged the community pharmacist programme to ensure that the drugs are certified, efficient and affordable.
It is evident that these reforms have started yielding positive results with job descriptions outlined, tasks set out, Key Performance Indicators (KPI)/ Evaluation and Appraisals highlighted. A large number of the PHCs are having better outlooks and rendering improved services. All these measures are to ensure the people of Edo State enjoy maximum services from their various PHC centres. Hopefully, Edo people would see the bigger picture and support the government in its developmental strides as the Edo State Government through the EDSPHCDA constantly engages Edo residents by enhancing and improving communication through social media handles and community-based health educators.