The first phase of the Oloibiri Health Program (OHP) was recently inaugurated and comprises of the remodeled General Hospital, Kolo; Water Treatment Plant; Hybrid Solar Powered System; Medical Laboratory Equipment at the College of Health Technology, Otuogidi and the Dental Chair at the Demonstration Clinic, Otuogidi (one of the 14 OHP network of facilities). Over 17,000 people and 20 Communities have benefited from the program over the last three years, in addition to training of 117 facility and community health workers and business mentorship to 100 entrepreneurs. In 2015, GE Healthcare and Shell Companies in Nigeria (Shell) signed an MOU to establish the comprehensive healthcare project in Ogbia Local Government Area (LGA), Bayelsa State.
“The OHP is an expansive initiative being implemented in three phases. As part of the first Phase, the General Hospital Kolo will serve as a referral hub providing 24 hours service with linkages to five Health-for-Life Centers and 13 Ward Health Centers. The second phase projects consists of Oloibiri Health-for-Life Centre, a Ward Health Centre, and a Knowledge Management and Research Centre to be completed by the end of October 2019.The third phase will be the establishment of the pilot Ogbia Community Health Insurance Scheme that will anchor the sustainability of the OHP and will deliver healthcare services using a network of facilities. This is expected to start in December 2019.” Said Mr. Osagie Okunbor, Managing Director, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria.
The OHP is a transformational health intervention program championed by Shell as part of its Social Investment Program, and in commemoration of the centenary celebrations of Nigeria delivered by GE Healthcare from February 2015 to August 2019. Other key program partners include Bayelsa State Government/ Ministry of Health, Ogbia Local Government Area, Federal University Otuoke, and World Bank/International Finance Corporation.
“Strengthening healthcare systems at the primary and secondary levels is key in accelerating Nigeria’s vision for Universal Health Coverage,” said Eyong Ebai, General Manager, GE Healthcare West, and Central & French Sub-Sahara Africa. “The OHP is an excellent example of the impact collaborations in the healthcare sector can attain, in driving sustainable healthcare solutions and access to quality and affordable healthcare for all across the country.” Mr. Ebai added that with over 40 years of operation in Nigeria, GE Healthcare was focused on partnering with public and private health providers to support the country’s sustainable healthcare development.
The OHP through targeted efforts seeks to strengthen the existing health system, promote world class service delivery and uptake, establish a learning and operations research institute, and enhance social determinants of health within communities. The program has taken a more holistic and unique approach by addressing challenges across the entire health system in a given population, with a wider scope including infrastructure upgrade, capacity building and training, availability of drugs, health insurance, strengthening data and overall health information management. It also has an explicit focus on social determinants of health which are outside the health system but have huge impact on the health of individuals and communities such as employment, water, sanitation and hygiene, electricity among others.
“In the next decades, economic growth in nations will be driven by the extent of human capital accumulation. This is why I am particularly proud of the launch of this program, because it prepares the people of Ogbia LGA for the challenges of the next century. Human capital development cannot become a reality if the people lack basic healthcare needs, education, skills and capabilities” Said Dr. Olumide Okunola, Senior Health Specialist at the World Bank/International Finance Corporation.
He added that Oloibiri, which was where Nigeria first discovered oil in commercial quantity over six decades ago, has made another first in the country by attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The Permanent Secretary Bayelsa State Ministry of Health, Dr Inodu Apoku KSC said, “The OHP is a good example of how as a state we are fast-tracking achievement of UHC through collaborations with private, development and other stakeholders as part of our Bayelsa State Strategic Health Development Plan. This will help ensure our citizenry have access to comprehensive, appropriate, affordable quality essential health care through revitalization of Primary Health Care.”
The attainment of UHC for both Nigeria and Africa at large requires continuous innovation of health systems at both primary and secondary healthcare levels. The success of the OHP in particular demonstrates the critical role of the private sector as a source of funding for universal access to a guaranteed package of health services at an affordable price and for provision of services which is used to leverage public financing. Health for all is possible through deliberate public and private collaborations in scalable initiatives such as the OHP, geared towards improving the quality of life for the citizens.