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Wike assures WHO of signing Health Insurance Contributory Bill into law

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has assured a delegation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that he would expedite action to ensure that the Health Contributory Bill is signed into law.

He expressed surprise that the all-important health bill has not been brought to him to sign it into law.

Wike spoke when he hosted a delegation from WHO at Government House, Port Harcourt, on Monday.

He disclosed that the state had achieved enormous success in reducing the rate of malaria infection and Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) among the people because of the robust partnership it has with the WHO.

The governor also noted that the issuance of polo-free status certificate of clearance to Nigeria was made possible because of the partnership with WHO.

“If you did not work hard with us, probably it would not have been possible. Our ideas and your partnership made it very easy for us to get to the level we are.

“The relationship between the State Government and WHO is an interesting and rewarding one. That was why when you asked for accommodation, we did not hesitate in providing you a befitting and furnished office and also to other agencies.

“We believe that partnering with you will go a long away in improving our healthcare system. When medical workers go on strike I asked to know why the strike and solve the problem.

“I can also tell you of the cooperation and support we get from the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA). Working together with them, we believe we will continue to correct the challenges.”

The governor described the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic as a storm across the globe that challenged every sane government to seek out enduring measures to safeguard its citizens

“No sane leader will fold his hands, and not to work hard. The COVID-19 has affected every government economically and so things have changed.

“However, we will not relent to see that our people are free from it even though it is not easy. In most rural areas, some people don’t even believe that it exist except you carry our enlightenment. It is our responsibility to make sure that we do the right thing.”

Speaking further, governor Wike said he is satisfied with the rate of COVID-19 testing and vaccination, with the State ranked as the third as regards testing in the country.

Wike said his Commissioner of Health had briefed him of the level of support gained to ease the vaccination process.

He stated that the State government now awards scholarship every year to at least 100 Rivers students studying medicine and other related courses at PAMO University.

“We are doing everything to improve on the number of health workers that are available at our hospitals.”

World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative to Nigeria, Dr. Walter M. Kazadi commended Wike for the remarkable leadership he has continued to provide in the fight against COVID-19 in Rivers State.

“We are visiting at a time when we are seeing a sign of hope with COVID-19 vaccination that has started and I will like to congratulate you on the vaccination programme that has started in this State. It really helps us provide some hope.”

“But, I will like to emphasize that we are still vulnerable until everyone is safe; until all the groups that need to get the vaccine get them, starting with the health worker, the front line workers, the elderly, the people with underlying conditions.

“So, we are still going through this pandemic and we are seeing some countries that thought they were through, only to be surprised by the third wave. So, we really want to come to you to avoid the catastrophe that was predicted for Nigeria that we have avoided so far. And I know Rivers State being the second economy in Nigeria can play a major role in that.”

The WHO representative acknowledged it is leaders like Wike who are committed to counterpart funding that has improved health indices in Nigeria including the victory it clinched over poliovirus.

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