The 59th meeting of the National Council on Health (NCH), a top decision-making body on health in the country, has commenced in Umuahia, the Abia state capital.
Dr. Wapada Balami, who presided over the session on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs. Binta Bello, told newsmen that the council would discuss issues on policies relating to leadership.
The theme of the four-day event is: “National Health Policy: A Tool for Achieving Universal Health Coverage’’.
Other sub-themes include: ‘The Role of The States in The Implementation of The National Health Policy’, ‘Health Sector Response to Humanitarian Crisis in Nigeria’, and ‘Professional Disharmony and Industrial Unrest: An Obstacle to Effective Health Care Delivery’.
According to Dr. Balami, who is a director in the ministry, other issues to be discussed include service provision as well as health care financing and research.
“The technical committee will review and sieve out the best, out of the policies that can impact on the health of Nigerians. They will be recommended to the ministers and commissioners for approval.
“The ultimate goal is to achieve an overall improvement in the quality of health care in the country.”
Balami said that the nation’s health status had recorded substantial improvement over the years.
“You cannot compare our health status in the past few decades to what we have today. There has been quite a lot of improvement, which is translated into progress in the indicators of health, especially in areas such as maternal and infant mortality,’’ he said.
Dr. Balami said that the Federal Government had made remarkable impact in providing modern equipment and facilities at the nation’s health institutions.
On the agitations by the National Association of Resident Doctors, he urged the association to shelve its plan for a full scale nationwide strike and tow the path of dialogue in the interest of Nigerians.
According to him, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Oyewole, and the Permanent Secretary have held extensive discussions with the association, with a view to resolving the issues.
In his welcome address, the Abia Commissioner for Health, Dr. Chigozie Ahukannah said that the State Government had made a lot of efforts to improve the health sector by providing quality and affordable health care services for the people.
The council is expected to come up with a communique at the end of the meeting, which would be formally declared open on Thursday at the International Conference Centre, Umuahia.(health reporter)