Lagos Health Commissioner, Special Adviser assume duties

Lagos Health Commissioner, Special Adviser assume duties

  • Seek support, collaboration of stakeholders

 The newly sworn-in Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Health, Dr. Oreoluwa Finnih-Awokoya yesterday assumed duties, pledging to work with all stakeholders to revamp, remodel, reposition, and repurpose the State health sector to be the medical tourism destination of choice in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The duo were received at the Conference Room of the State Ministry of Health by top government officials in the health sector, including the Chairman, Lagos State Health Service Commission, Dr. Atinuke Onayiga; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye and nine other Permanent Secretaries in the Health Sector; Chief Medical Director of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH); Prof. Adetokunbo Fabamwo; Former Chairman, Traditional Medicine Board, Prof. Adebukonla Ositelu-Adefule; Medical Directors of State-owned Hospitals; and Directors and staff of the Ministry of Health, amidst wild jubilation and cheers soon after their swearing-in by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Wednesday 13th September, swore in Abayomi and Finnih-Awokoya alongside 35 other Commissioners and Special Advisers, charging them to engage collaboratively and work together to build on the successes recorded by his administration in first four years in office.

The new State Executive Council, which is a mixture of politicians and technocrats with 29 male and eight female, is made up of 18 returning members of the immediate past cabinet and 19 new members. 

The 37 cabinet members comprised 23 Commissioners and 14 Special Advisers, amongst which are Prof. Akin Abayomi who was re-appointed and given the health portfolio as the Honourable Commissioner for Health and Dr. Oreoluwa Finnih-Awokoya, the former Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Health, who has now been assigned the Special Adviser for Health portfolio.

Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony of the State Executive Council held at Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa, Ikeja, Governor Sanwo-Olu charged the Commissioners and Special Advisers to do their best to surpass the expectations of Lagos residents. 

He said the new Commissioners and Special Advisers have been carefully and painstakingly chosen, adding that “They are, by any measure, some of our best brains, not just in Lagos State, but right around the country. These are men and women who can and will hold their own anywhere in the world. They are emblems of what Lagos State is all about – a Centre of Excellence. Lagosians should therefore rejoice in their selection and be expectant of quality service and performance in the months and years ahead.”

Speaking at the reception ceremony held in their honour by management and staff of the Ministry of Health, Abayomi and Finnih-Awokoya solicited the support, cooperation, and collaboration of all stakeholders in the health sector in order to drive the health mandate of the present administration towards improving access to qualitative and efficient health services and attaining universal health coverage.

Abayomi who expressed his gratitude to the Governor and people of Lagos for giving him the opportunity to serve a second term as the Commissioner for Health, assured that he is fully committed to striving for the improvement of the health care system in Lagos State.

“I firmly believe that we can build upon the great works of my predecessors in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jide Idris and Dr. Leke Pitan, and make significant advancements”, He said.

The Commissioner noted that one of the key initiatives his team will focus on, will be transforming healthcare infrastructure and addressing the issue of brain drain in the medical field.

He said: “We are working tirelessly to not only slow down this brain drain but eventually reverse it. Our plan includes transforming infrastructure in line with environmentally friendly designs and digitizing our health services. These efforts are already well underway.

“In addition, we aspire to establish a sustainable financing mechanism through state health insurance, ensuring that quality healthcare is accessible to all. Collaboration with the private sector is crucial in raising the standard of health delivery, and we are actively engaging with them on multiple fronts”.

Abayomi disclosed that the Ministry of Health recognizes the valuable contributions of alternative health practitioners and will work towards providing them with neccesary training and accreditation, and integrate them into the State healthcare system.

“Our primary healthcare (PHC) platform holds a position of high priority for us. We are dedicated to shifting from a focus on cure to prevention through our Universal Health Coverage (UHC) strategy. By prioritizing preventive measures, we aim to improve the overall health and well-being of our citizens”, He added.

Abayomi thanked the Permanent Secretaries in the State Health Sector particularly the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye; Permanent Secretary Health Service Commission, Dr. Ademuyiwa Eniayewun and Permanent Secretary Primary Health Care Board, Dr. Ibrahim Mustafa for holding forth after the last cabinet, was dissolved.

He noted that it is important for all health sector administrators, stakeholders and partners to come together, form a strategy, agree upon it, and put all hands on deck to implement the strategy, stressing that this is the right thing to do in order to move the State health sector forward.

Abayomi stated that despite the disruption occasioned by the global pandemic, COVID-19 in his first tenure, the Lagos State Health sector recorded giant strides and laudable achievement, including winning the war against COVID-19; medical infrastructure transformation; health insurance coverage, health financing and primary health revitalization.

He noted that the unbundling of the health sector with the creation of new health districts and appointment of Permanent Secretaries for the health districts and Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA) is a welcome development that will improve access to health at the grassroots and hasten the attainment of universal healthcare coverage.

While stressing that the task ahead is numerous, the Commissioner assured that there is no room for laxity and territoriality in the health sector but just room for work.

Speaking in the same vein, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Health, Dr Oreoluwa Finnih-Awokoya stated that her mandate in the health sector is geared towards progress of the health sector anchored on partnership, collaboration and friendship.

Finnih-Awokoya noted that she will bring her years of experience in the health sector, particularly in primary health level, to bear in the discharge of her duty, promising to right all wrongs and work with everyone to deliver quality, efficient and equitable health care services to the citizenry.

She thanked the Governor for giving her the rare opportunity to serve the people of the Lagos, pledging to serve diligently with compassion, empathy and without fear or favour.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye said the appointment of Prof Akin Abayomi and Dr. Oreoluwa Finnih-Awokoya as Commissioner and Special Adviser respectively signals good omen for State health sector, noting that it is the beginning of great things in the health sector.

While stating that the health sector is a complex sector, which is constantly under the scrutiny of citizens, Ogboye averred that the task before the duo is not going to be an easy one.

He however noted that the unbundling of the health sector into health districts for ease of administration will be of great help in driving the health mandate.

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