Use percentage of fuel subsidy funds for health insurance for vulnerable, Okowa tells FG

Delta Governor, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, has called on the Federal Government to use 25 percent of funds expended on fuel subsidy to provide health insurance for vulnerable Nigerians.

Okowa made the call on Friday when he received the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olurunnimbe Mamora, who visited him at Government House, Asaba.

He said that the Federal Government spent lots of money in subsidizing fuel for the rich, without consideration for the vulnerable in the society, adding that the country would experience peace if 25 per cent of the subsidy funds was deployed for an insurance scheme for the less-privileged.

He commended the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for their efforts in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor stated that God had been very merciful to Nigerians and Africans in the face of the pandemic by preventing many deaths as was earlier predicted.

He lauded the management of Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba, saying they had been of immense help to the government in the handling of COVID-19 patients in the state.

“I am glad that you are in Delta to inaugurate the ECR machine at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba.Although we have lost some lives, God has kept us safe and the anticipation of the world didn’t come to pass.

“We are in a very difficult time in our nation Nigeria and the more we pay special attention to the vulnerable people the better the society we will have.

“I thank God that the 7th Senate passed the National Health Bill which became an Act, and I must commend you and the Ministry for making funds available for the running of the basic health care fund provision.

“The basic health care fund provision has come to the aid of local government areas and the primary health care centres.

“If we are able to address health insurance for the vulnerable in our society, it will help us to reduce maternal mortality and the more we are able to reduce those indices the better for us as a nation.

“The money being used to subsidise fuel today, if 25 per cent is spent to provide health insurance for all Nigerians that have not been able to afford health care, it will help us as a nation.

“We must continue to direct our policies in favour of the poor because if the family is well enough it can take care of itself.

“If a reasonable chunk of that money is spent on the education of the poor children, it will help to check insecurity and unemployment to a large extent and we must continue to voice this narrative to change things in this country,” he said.

Okowa encouraged Nigerians to make themselves available for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, saying that it was safe.

“Nigerians should not doubt the efficacy of the vaccine because the World Health Organisation and European Medicine Agency have also spoken positively on the vaccine.

“We believe that when a large percentage of the population is vaccinated then we can get back to normal life,” he said.

Earlier, the minister had told the governor that he and his delegation were in Delta to inspect facilities at the FMC, Asaba and thanked him for his contributions to the management of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

He said Okowa was a distinguished Senator and medical doctor, who distinguished himself at the Red Chamber, and had continued to distinguish himself as governor.

Mamora commended Okowa for his support to the FMC in Asaba, saying “Mr Governor, so much has been said about the support you have given to us at the FMC.

“You have kept a good relationship and huge support to the Federal Medical Centre in appreciation of the fact that the primary beneficiaries of the services of the hospital are people of Delta State.

“Without any iota of doubt you have shown serious commitment to the welfare of the FMC, Asaba and your kind gesture is highly appreciated and that’s why we are here to acknowledge your good deeds and support.

“I am aware that even while at the Senate, you influenced certain things to the FMC and the opportunity of becoming governor of the state has encouraged you to do more for the hospital.

“As Chairman Senate Committee on Health, you were very instrumental to the passage of the National Health Act and that has gone a long way in providing basic health care for our people.

“What you are doing right now in Delta is a follow-up to what you did at the Senate, and on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health, we thank you for your support.”

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