By Asma’u Ahmad
The Niger state Government says it will partner with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of its measure to transform its health sector.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr Mustapha Jibril, made this known when he led a delegation from the Foundation on a courtesy visit to the leadership of the House of Assembly on Friday.
Dr Jibril said the partnership would focus on revitalising and strengthening the Primary Health Care (PHC) system in the state.
“The Government of Niger State has created an enabling environment and we are having a lot of partners coming into the state. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are collaborating with us to see how we can strengthen our primary health care,” he said.
According to him, the state is to contribute at least one per cent of its internally generated revenue to the process, while the foundation is still working out the size of its financial commitment.
Susna De, the Foundation’s Primary Health care System Strengthening Adviser, said the partnership would cover health care financing, health management information system, drugs and vaccines and human resources.
De said that it was supporting Niger because the state had demonstrated a true commitment to PHC transformation with its increased budgetary allocation to health sector.
“One of our criteria for supporting any state is that we go into astate that has shown true commitment to strengthening its primary health care.
“We have seen that in Niger state going by their increased budgetary allocation to health from eight per cent last year to 11 per cent in 2017,” De added.
According to her, the partnership with the state government will run for four years, adding that the Memorandum of Understanding will be signed in October.
She urged the state government on institutionalisation, sustainability and providing the right leadership in strengthening its systems.
Also, the Speaker, Alhaji Ahmed Marafa, said the intervention by the Foundation was timely as the state looks to make health care accessible and affordable to its citizens.
Alhaji Marafa assured that the house would ensure the state achieves the Abuja declaration of 15 per cent allocation to the health sector in its 2018 budget.
He also said that he was personally working on floating a social health insurance scheme that would only capture people in the informal sector.