After seemingly retarding the progress made in the health sector by the last administration in the last two years, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Monday hinted on the revival of the free health care services for expectant mothers and children under the age of five years.
The government also took further steps in extending the mother and child hospitals, which major on the care for children and expectant mothers, to other senatorial districts in the state.
One of the legacies of the immediate past Olusegun Mimiko administration was the provision of maternal and child care free of charge in the hospitals across the state.
Mr Mimiko had also abolished the practice of traditional birth attendants whose practices had resulted in the deaths of many expectant mothers.
However, the Akeredolu government did not provide the hospitals with needed funds when he assumed office in 2017, forcing an abrupt end to the programme.
The cost of delivery in hospitals and health centres during the period had forced some women to resume the patronage of traditional birth houses which were hitherto abolished.
The announcement on Monday is expected to be a great relief to mothers in the state, who could not afford maternal care due to dwindling economic fortunes.
The mother and child hospitals are currently in Akure and Ondo towns. But the new directive would see similar ones in the northern and southern senatorial districts of the state.
Mr Akeredolu gave an indication of his willingness to return to the path of his predecessor, when he told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) during his visit to the United States that Mr Mimiko had done well in the area of quality, accessible and affordable health care in the state.
The governor had noted that his administration would continue from where Mr Mimiko left, and would even surpass his achievements.
The Commissioner for Health, Wahab Adegbenro, along with the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Yemi Olowolabi, told journalists after the executive council meeting on Monday that the administration was committed to bringing effective health service delivery to the door steps of the people.
Mr Adegbenro said that the over 500 health centres in the state would serve as mini centres for the free health care services for pregnant women and children between zero to five years.
“We have scaled up the mother and child hospital,” he said. “As part of the efforts of the government to ensure that the vulnerable group have unrestricted access to quality health care service, council has approved that the Mother and Child hospitals should be scaled up with five more centres.
“You will also recall that the governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, signed into law the contributory health insurance scheme which has also made provision for the vulnerable people.
“The government has also approved the introduction of free health care service for pregnant women and children between zero to five year old.
“From the two mother and child hospitals that we currently have, we are moving up to seven. The council deliberated and approved that the state specialist hospital, Ikare Akoko will now become Mother and Child hospital, Ikare.
“The general hospital in Owo will also become mother and child hospital. Equally, the general hospitals in Ore, Okitipupa and Igbokoda have been scaled to mother and child hospitals respectively “.
Mr Adegbenro noted that the statement government had sought to improve the health sector, and had succeeded in ensuring that the state owned School of Nursing and Midwifery was absorbed by the University of Medical Science, Ondo (UNIMED) into a degree awarding institution.
He added that the newly initiated bill would also upgrade the School of Health Technology in Akure, to a College of Health Technology.