Delta Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has said that health insurance for children, women and the vulnerable was a sure way of checking maternal and infant mortality in the country.
Okowa stated this when he received the National Executive Committee of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) on courtesy visit at Government House, Asaba.
He said that many pregnant women had died due to poor medical attention, stressing that paying premiums through health insurance would reverse the ugly trend, and recommended the scheme for other states in the country that had not embraced it (the health insurance scheme).
He said that pregnant women and children of zero to five years had benefitted from the contributory health insurance scheme of his administration and advocated that issues bordering on women and children should be accorded special attention.
“In our contributory health insurance programme which l believe is important for us as a nation and as a state, we have since 2017 that we fully operationalised the scheme been paying the premium for all pregnant women and children under five years of age.
“Yes, it has some cost and we are able to bear the burden and it is something that l have continuously tried to speak to concerning Nigeria that it is doable by our Nigerian nation,” Okowa said.
He lauded FIDA for being a voice for women, children and the vulnerable in the society, especially in the fight against gender-based violence, gender-inequality, child-abuse and other obnoxious acts against women and children.
Apart from various programmes and projects in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Job Creation Office and Micro Credit Scheme aimed at alleviating poverty, he said, his administration had also created the Girl Child Entrepreneurship Office to carter for girls between the ages of 18 and 30 years.
“We are doing the best we can within the limit of the challenges that we have in our nation because we know that we are in troubled times, but l believe that God will continuously intervene and grant us more peaceful place.
“I must congratulate you on the work that you do especially when your work is directed towards uplifting and ensuring justice for those who are more vulnerable in the society especially the women and children.
“We do realise as a state that women and children are definitely vulnerable and we have tended to start off programmes that will be directed specifically to them.
“Even in our empowerment programmes that l spoke about at first time, l realise that it was not just enough to insist that 30 to 35 per cent of the slots be allotted to women. We now have to create a separate programme of empowerment for our women through the Ministry of Women Affairs.
“Along the line, in our second tenure, we now realised that there was a segment of women that were still missing out, those between the ages of 18 and 30 most of whom could not fit into the Ministry of Women Affairs and its empowerment programmes. So, we had to create the Girl-Child Entrepreneurship,” he added.
On the appointment of seven women into the state Executive Council, Okowa said “I am a bit relieved because in my first tenure, we had only two women in the state EXCO but now, we have seven women, four of whom are lawyers.
“I feel more fulfilled as l said and l wish l could do more but under the constraints that l have l could not take it beyond seven. But, we hope that we have made a statement.”
While pledging to partner FIDA in the realisation of set goals, especially in making the society better for women and children, he charged the lawyers to be more vocal in propagating its cardinal goals.
Earlier in her address, the National President of FIDA, Ms Rhoda Tyoden, said members of the association were in Delta for their 2021 second quarterly National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, adding that FIDA’s mission was to realise a just, peaceful and equitable Nigerian society where women and children’s rights and interests were guaranteed.
Tyoden added that the objectives of FIDA were to enhance and promote the welfare of women and children; to proffer advice to the government in all cases of neglect relating to women and children and to promote the principles and aims of the United Nations in their legal and social aspects among others.
She commended Governor Okowa for his laudable achievements and efforts in supporting women and girls in the fight against gender inequality, children’s rights and in empowering women in the state.
“We must also use this window of opportunity to congratulate you and the good people of the state for the passage of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law which brings great signal to Delta State as a progressive state,” the FIDA National President said.
While applauding the governor for his inspiring and sustained efforts in empowering women and girls in the state through various skills acquisition and poverty alleviation schemes, he assured that FIDA Nigeria would continue to partner his administration towards achieving FIDA’s mandate.