GOVERNORS of the South East have inaugurated a Consultative Committee on Health as part of their pursuit of policies that will enhance the integration of the region. The move us also set to make the region the hub of medical tourism.
The Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, represented by the Deputy Governor, Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo, inaugurated the committee, Thursday, at the Banquet Hall of the State Government House.
At the inauguration, the Director General of the South East Governors’ Forum, Professor Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, explained that the South East Consultative Committee on Health (SEGF-CCH) was in partnership with eHealth Africa, an international donor.
According to him, this was in furtherance of the Forum’s drive to foster regional integration, enhance the economy of the zone, while also seeking partnership with international donors. He noted that health was one of the six priority areas picked for the development of the region. The others are Ease of Doing Business, infrastructure, agriculture, education and media.
The Director General stated: “this event takes us further to the achievement of one of our thematic objectives – health. Against the backdrop of health challenges facing our region, we reached out to eHealth Africa, an international non-governmental organization for partnership. The organisation graciously accepted to partner with South East Governors’ Forum with a view to providing interventions in our health sector.”
According to Ortuanya, the Forum intends to seek more support toward critical intervepartner especially during emergencies in partnership with international donors like DFID, World Bank, USAID, UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
He hopes that these partnerships “will make the South East region a health tourist destination in Nigeria and Africa.”
While inaugurating the 12-member committee, which included all the state commissioners for health, the deputy governor outlined for the committee a four point terms of reference, and noted that the responsibilities were enormous and challenging.
She told the committee to: “harmonise and facilitate the fruitful and productive coordination of all health-related activities in any or all of the states within the zone;
“Create a multi-sectoral platform that will harness and mobilise abundant private resources to complement government budgetary allocations and channel same towards public health improvement, optimised service delivery and overall well-being of the citizenry.”
She further urged them to also “serve as a medium for grassroots/community – level mobilisation and information dissemination on guidelines for achieving improved health outcomes.”
They will be required to “mobilise and strengthen traditional, religious institutions for health outcomes improvement through the promotion of a sustained positive health-seeking behaviour among residents of the entire zone,” the deputy governor noted.
The committee’s chairman, Professor Frank Ezugwu praised the quality of the membership of the body. He described the members as “people who have established themselves in their professions. They have accepted to offer their services for the benefit of the people. We will use our knowledge to see if we can harness whatever assistance we can get both internally and externally to improve the condition of the people.” He admitted that “the task before us is enormous and challenging. I believe that with our collective resolve we will surmount them.”
Among members of the committee are: Sir Chinedu Enemuoh (Secretary), Commissioners of Health: Dr John Akuhanna,(Abia) Dr Joe Akabuike (Anambra), Dr Sam Umezulike (Ebonyi), Dr Fintan Ekochin (Enugu), Dr. (Mrs) Angela Uwakwem (Imo). Others include Vice-Chancellor of Imo State University, Professor (Mrs) Adaobi Obasi, Rt. Rev. Dr C.V. C Onaga, Dr. Sunday Nwangele, His Royal Majesty Igwe Alex Onyido and Mr Ogbonna Ogwo.