Anambra State Government has applauded the Healthy Advocacy Research and Prevention (HARP) initiative in collaboration with St. Joseph Catholic Hospital Ifite-Ogwari for adopting Ayamelum indigenes into the State Health Insurance Scheme (ASHIA).
No fewer than 8,000 indigenes from the eight communities of Ayamelum Local Government Area were adopted into the scheme, comprising pregnant women, women of childbearing age and the elderly.
The Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Dr Afam Obidike while flagging off the registration exercise over the weekend, reiterated the state government’s commitment to partnering with well-meaning individuals in the health sector.
Dr Obidike commended the ASHIA initiative, noting that the essence of the adoption model of ASHIA was to pull resources together and help the poor masses to receive affordable health care services.
He appreciated Dr. Chima Onuekwe, founder of the initiative and all the individuals that have contributed for the progress of the initiative.
The commissioner further said Primary healthcare facilities across communities are being upgraded for easy access of health services.
“This will help us to reduce the maternal mortality in the state. When we did a review on maternal mortality a few months ago, the record showed Ayamelum to have the highest number of pregnant women that died during childbirth.
“I am very glad that the major beneficiaries are pregnant women. If pregnant women go for antenatal as when due, you will find out that the incidence of deaths relating to pregnancy will drastically reduce.
“But with this ASHIA initiative, it will no longer be the same if pregnant women utilise this ample opportunity to access healthcare.
“So, for us as a government, our ASHIA is one of the best and very affordable. For our neighbouring states, theirs are on the higher side but the state government insisted that we will make ours affordable and it is #12,000 annually to render quality service to our people.
“The essence of the universal health coverage which is what the administration of Gov. Chukwuma Soludo is trying to achieve is to ensure functionality of Primary Healthcare Centres, ensure people are protected when they are sick by using insurance,’’ he said.
The founder of the initiative, Dr. Chima Onuekwe said the partnership with ASHIA and St. Joseph’s Catholic hospital was to provide free medical services primarily for pregnant women, women of childbearing age, elderly and children from Ayamelum.
He explained; “We are targeting 1000 beneficiaries from each of the eight communities in Ayamelum local government area and the flag off event just commenced from Ifite-Ogwari community.
“I, together with other well-meaning individuals from Ayamelum raised funds together to offset the #12,000 premium payments for healthcare services for the beneficiaries for one year.
“St Joseph’s Hospital has also agreed to write off the 10 per cent co-payments expected of the beneficiaries.”
Dr. Onuekwe noted that they came up with the Operation Healthy Ayamelum initiative because of the rate of preventable deaths that occur each year especially among pregnant women.
“So, because of poor healthcare, lack of finance they couldn’t afford to pay for a good hospital for good healthcare services.
“I am personally advocating for health insurance and I encourage other prominent indigenes to key into the adoption model.
“What I tell people is; register even your own immediate families, leave out my own but your mother, father, siblings, your sister, register them, make it personal, be selfish about it,” he advised.
The Managing Director, ASHIA, Dr. Simeon Onyemaechi praised the efforts made by the entire Ayamelum, the initiative of Dr. Onuekwe and Fr. Basil Ekwunife to rally sons and daughters of Ayamelum to pay for health insurance of their people.
Dr. Onyemaechi revealed that they have paid to register close to 500 persons and their target is to get to a point where they will have minimum of 8,000 beneficiaries of the Insurance Scheme in Ayamelum which is a work in progress.
“We encourage others to come up with initiatives like this and to have a common purse where they will put money to adopt people in health insurance.
“I must commend like the commissioner did, Fr. Ekwunife who is in charge of St. Joseph’s Hospital for waiving the 10% co-pay in insurance.
“We encourage other hospitals across the state to do same because it will help us to have a lot of coverage in ASHIA,” Onyemaechi noted.