By Olubunmi Sodipo
The ‘Roadmap to Accelerated Development in Oyo State, 2019 – 2023’ a documentation of Governor Seyi Makinde’s social contract with the good people of Oyo State is premised on four pillars: Education, Health, Economy and Security. This confirms His Excellency’s recognition and identification of quality healthcare delivery, amongst others, as an essential deliverable in good governance.
With a clear focus on the aforementioned four pillars, Gov Seyi Makinde expressed his belief that fixing the education sector is key to freeing the people from the shackles of poverty and filling them with knowledge. He went ahead to link this to the second pillar, which is Health.
Health being wealth and prevention being better than cure, the education of the people alongside the fixing of hospitals will ensure that knowledgeable Oyo State people, living with sound bodies and minds will be productive, leading to the third pillar, which is the expansion of Oyo State economy. A people with knowledge, who are healthy and productive are the ones who can expand the Oyo State economy. 
However, there remains a fourth pillar, Security. Governor Seyi Makinde believes that Oyo State would be an oasis of prosperity within the Federal Republic of Nigeria, if her educated and healthy people contributing their quota to the expansion of the state’s economy can continue to do so in a safe and secured environment.
In the same way that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, a building is as strong as its weakest pillar, hence the attention being given to these four pillars in turn. The present piece is with a focus on the pillar of health.
In 2020, the Oyo State health care sector witnessed improvements not only in infrastructure but also in recruitment and training. Advantage was taken of the pandemic to upgrade and rehabilitate Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) at Igbo-Ora and Awe. The PHC at Aafin in Oyo as well as at Oranyan and ALGON Comprehensive Health Centre at Eyin Grammar, both in Ibadan, were also renovated and equipped. An Infectious Disease Centre was established, equipped and commissioned at Olodo, Ibadan. Furthermore, at Ogbomosho, one wing of the LAUTECH Teaching Hospital was renovated, whereas at Saki, an incomplete project was taken and turned into a 100- bed specialist hospital.
Amongst other epithets, 2020 had been described, in some quarters as, ‘Year of the Pandemic’ and amidst the present warnings and realities of a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the year 2021 may suffer the same sobriquet. It is expected that Oyo State’s response to this global challenge will continue to be driven by science, logic and data. The need to keep the people healthy and safe will continue to be balanced with the need to safeguard their economic well being.
Beyond the necessary response to the Covid-19 challenge, Governor Seyi Makinde is forging ahead with his plan to renovate health facilities all over Oyo State. The approach is simple, consisting of two strategies, one of which is to ensure that each of the 351 wards in Oyo State have a standard PHC. The second strategy is that once there are 351 standard PHCs out of the 721 PHCs in the state, the other ones can be concessional. Those who are interested in investing in them can be informed and the government can regulate them. The goal is to make the PHCs functional and affordable.
To this end, Governor Seyi Makinde invigorated the Oyo State Health Insurance Agency, OYSHIA with an uncommon political will and availability of funds, urging the agency to ensure that the majority of the residents are enrolled in the scheme. In response, OYSHIA has successfully enrolled over 200,000 residents including civil servants, the organized private sector and informal sector, as well as created enrollment centres in all the 33 local government areas of the state. It has employed 33 medical doctors on the scheme, just as it has engaged seven Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), all towards ensuring the good health of the people at a cheaper rate. On a weekly basis, Dr Olusola Akande, the head of OYSHIA is on several electronic media programmes, educating and enlightening Oyo State people about the health insurance scheme and its many benefits.
Meanwhile, the plan to rehabilitate one PHC per ward in Oyo State is in full gear. In a December 6, 2020 interview,  Hon Dada Awoleye, the Chairman, Oyo State Primary Health Care Board confirmed that Governor Seyi Makinde had approved the rehabilitation of 100 PHCs across the state within the next six months. This will cover 3 PHCs in each of the 33 local government areas of the state, to ensure an even distribution of PHCs in the state, for more people to have access to quality primary health care.
Beyond the fixing of health care centres and the capturing of more people into the state health insurance scheme, other health initiatives are ongoing. The Oyo State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Inclusion, under the Hon Commissioner, Alhaja Faosat Sanni has continued to ensure the use of health talks that promote healthy living for children and women. It also refers people to relevant health agencies for medical care. Immunization of children and access to other basic health care services has become easy since this administration began.
Other notable health initiatives include the Omi Tuntun Free Vesico-Vaginal  Fistula (VVF) Surgical Repair Project. The first phase of this laudable project had been concluded with a second phase in view. Also worthy of mention is the T’omo T’iya (Child and Mother) initiative aimed at reducing infant and maternal mortality rate in the state. The Honourable Commissioner for Health, Oyo State, Dr Bashir Bello noted that the initiative was meant to ensure the welfare of the women before, during and after birth, particularly the new life they are bringing forth.
The accelerated development of Oyo State is on, Governor Seyi Makinde is keeping his promises and the pillar of health is getting all the attention it deserves.

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