By Ogenyi Ogenyi,Uyo
Civil society groups and stakeholders in the health sector have called on States in the Niger Delta to adopt transparent as well as citizens participatory approach in the planning and delivery of social services especially, on healthcare delivery.
They made the call in Uyo weekend during a Learning Event organized by Policy Alert and its partners under the aegis of the Niger Delta Open Government Observatory (NOGO) with the theme, “How can Open Government partnership enhance effective healthcare delivery at the sub-national level?”
Project Director, Niger Delta Open Observatory cluster, Koko Udoh, in his remarks stated that transparency without citizens participation is meaningless noting that if the people are part of policy creation in determining how they should be treated at hospitals, it would help them to have value for their money and engender commitment from healthcare providers and the government.
Udoh disclosed that States that have signed onto Open Government Policy (OGP) are making inroads in making health planning participatory.
Executive Director of Policy Alert, Tijah Bolton-Akpan on his part noted that though health is on the concurrent legislative list, there is need to make its delivery transparent, accountable, and people centric.
Bolton-Akpan hinted that there could be a cut of financing for social services, including health care as the country both the state and local governments are currently undergoing a fiscal crisis adding that, there should be more innovative and efficient solutions to it.
One of the discussants and Non-state actors Co-Chairman of the OGP in Abia State, Barr Agbonma Ukaobasi, noted said when government is open; corruption is minimized and wastage reduced, leaving more resources for tackling of health challenges.
According to her, “when citizens are more involved in health sector, decision making, including the budget process, that becomes an incentive for them to track health expenditures and hold government accountable. This in turn leads to better healthcare outcomes.”
Representative of the National Coordinator, OGP Secretariat Abuja, Uchenna Arisukwu, urged state governments in the Niger Delta region who were yet to sign on to the Open Government Partnership (OGP), to do so without further delay.
He said that, “the OGP provides a ready platform for reformers within and outside of government to jointly solve governance challenges, including those related to service delivery in the health sector. “