Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, has said the health insurance scheme will start in the state in the first quarter of this year.
In this interview, he talked about the importance of the private sector in the scheme, the giant strides and how Lagos has made impact in health sector.
What are your plans for 2018 in the health sector of Lagos State?
This year, we will lay emphasis on infrastructure development, human resource development, health care financing and all those areas. Also, health insurance must start in the first quarter. We are also going to embark on greater training of the health workforce. Whether we like it or not, we need to address the issue of the health workforce.
On human resource, we have challenges there. We will not make progress if we don’t solve those challenges. Some of the challenges are on training, expertise, attitude, technology etc. We will continue to build on strides in infrastructure; we will continue to renovate our health plan unit. More importantly, we will start the health insurance scheme, as I said earlier. In doing so, we are going to involve the private sector more because of the human resource challenges. The other area we are going to look into is the lifestyle of the rural setting.
You became popular during Ebola saga. What was you experience then?
I don’t know about becoming popular. However, when Ebola struck, I was out of the country. I had to return a day after. Ebola was a challenge to us, but we were lucky. During Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola governments, there were things we started and put in place, in terms of planning. However, we did not plan, in the context of Ebola; we just felt that we were benchmarking our state with solutions. We started putting things together, planning, as well as setting up a lot of institutions; we started all those things, not knowing that Ebola was going to come.
We created a semi-environmental unit (not with any name), whose role was to pick up dead bodies on the streets. That unit played a crucial role during the Ebola saga. All we did was to train the personnel. That unit played a big role in tracking Ebola patients and disinfecting their homes. When we set up the ambulance service, we didn’t plan for the Dana crash, but it helped greatly. We didn’t plan for the Ebola, but the ambulance unit and other things we did earlier played significant roles. There were things we set up then, which are now institutions and we tapping into them and building upon them.
Could you tell us the success story of the health care sector in Lagos State?
Whatever success story is dependent on the kind of person you work with. I’m fully convinced that in anything you do, if you don’t have governance and good leadership, you won’t do much because those things count. It took me a while to fully understand that. Asiwaju did much in terms of leadership. There were positive issues, in terms of policies and governance. When Tinubu first came in, he set up committees of people who advised him on different areas. This helped a lot.
Of course, private sector angle in governance was good. I think that was the thing that created a positive growth for Lagos State. We needed to think out of the box. To do this, it was expedient for us to unshackle ourselves from the bureaucracy of governance. We were not scared of innovating. Our benchmark, actually, was not within the country, but what was happening in other developed countries.
Lagos State is peculiar. There’s a greater awareness of people. This put us on our toes. People living in Lagos have peculiar expectations, which you must fulfill. Again, we decided to go into reforms.