Deltans have been told to expect realistic reforms of the State Contributory Health Scheme through the M.O.R.E Agenda of Governor Oborevwori with the view to repositioning the Commission for optimal performance.

The Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joseph Onojaeme made this known in his office on Tuesday, during the meeting with the CEO/Permanent Secretary, State Hospitals Management Board, and the Board Secretary on the current status of the Board, on progress made and challenges being experienced.

“We are going to bring in the informal sector which makes up the bulk of the State’s population. Then we will ensure that payments for services rendered to hospitals are prompt,” the Commissioner disclosed.

On the issue of the Medical Residency Training Fund, the Commissioner said that he observed the implementation has not been properly coordinated, hence he has directed the Director, Medical Services and Training in the Ministry to ensure the implementation is unified across the State.

“The Hospitals Management Board (HMB) makes the bulk of the health care in the State, so it is a very important parastatal under the Ministry of Health therefore their activities have to be taken seriously. So far so good we believe that the current leadership of the Board has been doing well but we expect more from them” the Commissioner stated.

Dr. Paul Okubor, CEO/Permanent Secretary, Delta State Hospitals Management Board in his presentation said the Board is made up of six Central Hospitals while the rest are comprised of General and Cottage hospitals and their activities are coordinated by the Board in Asaba.

“HMB provides health care delivery services ranging from primary, secondary to tertiary services where necessary. It is the biggest provider of healthcare services to Deltans and statistics abound to validate this. This is true both for fee-paying patients and health insurance patients under the State Contributory Health Scheme.”

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Explaining the role of the Residency Training Programme as a provider of a steady stream of high-quality personnel for specialist care in the HMB hospitals, Dr. Okubor disclosed that the Board currently runs Residency training programmes in three specialties at Central Hospital Warri which are Obstetrics, Gynecology and Pediatrics while Eku Baptist Hospital, Eku trains on family medicine.

On the challenge of shortage of personnel, Dr. Okubor explained that though the past administration approved the employment of close to 1,000 health care personnel for HMB, there is still a huge gap in personnel needs that requires urgent attention.

He said that the huge gap was due to lack of new employments, retirements and movements of personnel from HMB to other sister health establishments in the State. He added that the personnel from HMB who were used in starting Asaba Specialist Hospital had not been replaced to date and also that those who left HMB for the Delta State University Teaching Hospital, Oghara at inception have also not been replaced to date.

“There is a huge disparity in the distribution of health care workers in the various health care establishments in the State while the HMB hospitals do the bulk of the work they have far fewer manpower compared to other establishments. The result is the overwhelming work pressure on staff and reluctance of healthcare professionals in picking up appointments with HMB compared to other sister hospitals in the State” he revealed.

On infrastructure challenge, Dr. Okubor summarized it thus “There is need for provision of more equipment, renovation of dilapidated buildings, tackling the menace of bat infestation, need for expansion of some facilities and provision of alternative power and energy.

Speaking further on the State Contributory Health Commission, “HMB hospitals have played very major roles in actualizing the dreams behind the setting up of the Scheme. While progress has been made with respect to the operation of the Scheme as it affects our hospitals there are areas of concern that need to be urgently addressed. The Commission is perpetually indebted to the hospitals sometimes owing as much as 18 months for the fees for service package” he stated.