Sen. Adeleke Mamora, the Minister of State for Health has cautioned against establishing new healthcare centres in the country, without proper funding.
Mamora gave the advice at a public hearing on five bills organsied by the House of Representatives Committee on Health Institution in Abuja in Thursday.
The bills were a bill for an Act to establish Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakiliki, Ebonyi, a bill for an Act to repeal the Federal School of Medical Laboratory Technology, Jos, Plateau.
Others included a bill to establish Federal Medical Centre Amagu Ikowo, Ebonyi, a bill to establish Federal Collage of Nursing, Midwife and Health Sciences Isiala-Mbano, Imo and a bill to establish Federal Medical Centre Bonny, Rivers.
Mamora said that the ministry conducted an audit and discovered that there were 30,000 Primary Healthcare Centers in the country with less than one third functional.
“Even those that are functional, they are not fully functional as the time the audit was conducted,” he said.
The minister said that a number of the existing facilities were groaning under the pains of inadequate funding especially the primary health centers.
“We feel very strongly in the ministry that this is where we need to focus our attention.
“We know that the first point of call for the bulk of people living in rural areas is the primary healthcare centres that they could easily approach when they have need.
“Any bill that is presented is supposed to be accompanied by the financial compendium which should give the outline of the sustainable financial cost of the implementation of the bill if it becomes a law.
“We need to emphasis that it is not just putting physical structure on ground that is the problem or putting equipment on ground because the hood does not make the monk.
“You also need the human resource for health and that is the most critical.
“In recent past, we had crisis from the various health union and in all of these, the fundamental issue is financing,’’ he said.
Earlier, the sponsor of one of the bills, Rep. Farah Dagogo (PDP-Rivers) said that the National Population Commission (NPC) in 1991 put the population of Bonny at about 76,124 persons.
He said that there was surge in the population which was estimated to increase to about 172,549 persons influenced by the estimated increase in industrial activities resulting from the construction of the Train 7 Project.
“The Train 7 Project has implication for explosion in population, thus, the establishment of a good secondary healthcare facility is critical at this point.
“Bonny has grown from the status of rural to urban environment and urban environments are more likely to see large disparities in socioeconomic status, higher rates of crime and violence.
“There will be the presence of marginalised populations with high-risk behaviours, and a higher prevalence of psychological stressors that accompany the increased density and diversity of cities care system.
“With the increased density and diversity cities care system, health and these come with concerns.
“Currently, there is one General Hospital and a few healthcare centres are poorly equipped to provide for the basic health needs.
“They cannot handle the shocks that may arise from serious health related ailments or emergencies in the area,’’ he said.
He urged the committee to consider the bill and make far reaching positive recommendations to stimulate useful debates that would lead to its passage by the House.
Other stakeholders at the public hearing supported the bill but made recommendation and proposed some amendments to the bills before passage by the house. (NAN)