Ubong Sampson -Uyo

The Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. (Barr) Onofiok Luke has made open the event that inspired the State Health Insurance Scheme bill existing in record as one of the bills passed into law by the present 6th Assembly.

He made the revelation, Saturday, at the Investiture of the 13th President and Inauguration of the 2017-2019 Executive Council of Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria (MWAN)- Akwa Ibom State.

The State Health Insurance Scheme bill was sponsored by Barr. Onofiok Luke and was passed into law sometime last year. The said bill, together with the Primary Health Care bill, earned him commendations from several individuals and professional bodies, notably, the Akwa Ibom State Chapter of Nigerian Medical Association.

In a remark he gave as chairman on the event, Barr. Luke credited Dr. Christie Akwaowo, a female medical practitioner as source of the inspiration that birthed the said bill. According to him, the said Dr. Akwaowo inspired him during a programme he attended two years ago in Uyo, where she (Akwaowo) presented a paper that centred on Universal Health Coverage.

His words: “Two years ago, the Nigerian Medical Association invited me for a programme at the Doctor’s House along Nwaniba by Idu Uruan, and the lead presenter happened to be Dr. Christie Akwaowo. I sat there and listened to her attentively and when she finished, I asked her for a copy of the paper she presented and what she did basically was on Universal Health Coverage.

“I want to say that the lesson she taught me that day enabled me to share some experiences with my colleagues, and that gave birth to the State Health Insurance Scheme Law of Akwa Ibom State.

“She further enlightened us to a point that I had to lead the sponsor of state primary health care development agency bill which was passed into law and presently awaiting assent by the Governor.

“The ideas, knowledge and enlightenment I got for being the lead sponsor of that bill was as a result of that presentation made by Dr Akwaowo. When we wanted to do the public hearing I went back to her and got more of the literature that will help us take an informed position and then requested her presence at the public hearing which she obliged”.

Expressing delight that money has been proposed by the governor in the 2018 budget for the take off of the insurance scheme, Luke noted that when history will be written on the State Health Insurance Scheme, that the effort of Dr. Akwaowo will be captured behind the scene.

He also took the opportunity to appreciate the efforts of great Nigerians who he said are trying to eradicate cancer from the society. While mentioning the diagnosis center in Calabar owned by Col. Anthony Ukpo as standing out in that regard, the 5-star lawmaker urged other Nigerians who have the financial wherewithal to support such laudable projects to aid the alleviation of cancer.

The Speaker also appreciated the efforts of former Nigerian First Lady, Turai Yaradua for the International Cancer Center she initiated in Abuja, while further appealing to government and all citizens not to look at the project being politically motivated, but should join hands in ensuring that it comes to life, as according to him, it will go a long way in saving lives

Extending his appeal to the case of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, the 6th Assembly lead man tasked members of the public, especially the financially robust ones to assist in raising it up to standard. He particularly appealed for contributive efforts of well meaning Nigerians on the donation of a dialysis machine, which he gave an estimated cost of about N7m, to the dialysis centre of the hospital, adding that the availability of such machine will go a long way to help curb cancer and make a better living for Nigerians.

Declaring the event open, Luke delivered a message of goodwill from members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to the Association, and as well commended the efforts of Dr. Aniekeme Uwah and his led Nigerian Medical Association in the state for “the great work they are doing in the state. He further pledged the best of efforts by the legislature to support the association in their projects, especially where it concerns giving relief to cancer patients.