Photo Governor Alex Otti, Dr. Anas-Ibrahim and Deputy Governor, Ikechukwu Emetu (left)

FG commends Otti on proactive steps to resolve health sector issues in Abia

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Governor Alex  Otti, Dr. Anas-Ibrahim and Deputy Governor, Ikechukwu Emetu (left)

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The Federal Government has commended the Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti,  for taking proactive measures to resolve the lingering challenges in the state’s healthcare system prior to his assumption of office on May 29, 2023.

Special Adviser to the President on Health, Dr. Salman Anas-Ibrahim, who gave the commendation, said by declaring a state of emergency in the health sector and increasing allocation to health in the 2024 Budget by 15% as well as the swift resolution of salary disputes, Governor Otti significantly alleviated challenges in the state’s healthcare system.

Dr. Anas-Ibrahim spoke on Monday, when she led a team from the Presidency to visit Governor Otti at his residence in Umuehim, Nvosi, Isialangwa South. The team is in Abia on an advocacy visit.

She called for partnership between Abia and the Federal Government to accelerate Health Sector Transformation initiatives outlined in the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu.

The Special Adviser to the President on Health said the Federal Government would support Abia under the Presidential Acceleration Plan for Reduction of Maternal Deaths as well as other areas including capacity building, resources and  advocacy.

Responding to the senior presidential aide, Governor Otti thanked her for visiting, saying Abia State had already aligned with the Federal Government’s Renewed Hope Agenda in the health sector, in order to achieve improved access to quality healthcare delivery in the state.

The Governor highlighted the shared objectives between Abia and the Federal Government, especially in the area of health and emphasised a mutual drive towards a common purpose despite political differences.

“Thank you for this visit which we appreciate a great deal. We want to also use this opportunity to appreciate the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, his Excellency, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, who sent you on this trip. I want to say a big thank you to him and by time you get back, please convey our happiness and our gratitude to him.

“I will not take for granted all the very kind and generous words that you have spoken about our administration in Abia State. We really appreciate you and appreciate that you’re following development in the state.

“There are 36 states and as you rightly mentioned. This is not an APC state, but given all the things you have reeled out about the President’s Renewed Hope Agenda, with specific reference to health, I don’t think I’ll be exaggerating if I say that even if we are not in the same party, we are on the same pedestal and we are driving towards the same purpose.

“Without any fear of contradiction, I will say that with all the things you have said, we’ve already keyed in on this Renewed Hope Agenda; because listening to you, all the areas that the Federal Government is interested in, are also the areas we are interested in Abia,” Governor Otti told his guest.

The Governor, who recounted the deliberate steps taken by his administration upon assumption of office, said his government had addressed critical healthcare challenges in Abia which include; a robust budget for the healthcare delivery system, restoration of accreditation for the Abia State University Teaching Hospital and the College of Medicine of the University, which had been in a state of disrepair during the past government, as well as clearing salary arrears of health workers.

“When we came in, we were very deliberate about the things we were going to do. As we came in, we found that our state tertiary health institution, the Abia State University Teaching Hospital did not have accreditation and had not had in the last three years before we came in. So, it was a major challenge,” he narrated.

Governor Otti outlined ongoing initiatives by his government to include the retrofitting of General Hospitals and Primary Healthcare Centers across the state, establishment of a Medical Village, which would serve as a comprehensive healthcare hub to reverse medical tourism and provide top-notch medical services within Abia State.

He underscored the significance of addressing Maternal and Child Mortality rates, noting that his government is commited to improving healthcare needs of Abia people.

“We are not where we want to be, but we definitely have moved from where we met the state. Where we are now is retrofitting the primary health care centers and from our last count, they were about 948 of them.

“Luckily, we had a price that we won from the Governor’s forum, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; ‘The leadership Challenge’, and the money from there, we have deployed first of all to the Primary Health Care Centers and of course we do have a robust budget for the healthcare delivery system in Abia state.

“In the last eleven months, we have had to intervene at different levels just to ensure that people have better opportunities to live when they are challenged and we will continue to push the bars in those areas so that we can move our people from homelessness,” Governor Otti stated.

He affirmed his administration’s readiness to collaborate with the Federal Government, adding that the state would support all Federal Government’s initiative aimed at uplifting citizens and driving socio-economic development.

Joining the Governor to receive the presidential team were the Deputy Governor, Engr Ikechukwu Emetu; Secretary to the State Government, Prof Kenneth Kalu; Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ngozi Okoronkwo; Special Adviser to the Governor on Health, Dr. Ngozi Azodoh; and other Senior aides to the Governor and Heads of agencies in the Ministry of Health.

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