Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano has said a new health scheme is underway in the state under which the rich will offset part of the medical bills of the poor.
It was also stated that a category of Anambra people including prisoners will not have to pay for their hospital bills under the scheme.
Nation reports that Governor Obiano announced this during a Pontifical High Mass to mark the 62nd birthday of the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, Most Rev Valerian Okeke at the Onitsha Prisons.
Addressing the inmates and dignitaries who joined the Archbishop for Mass at the prisons, Governor Obiano said that his government is aware of the health challenges facing the prisoners and is making frantic efforts to ameliorate them while presenting drugs, toiletries, bottled water and a cash donation of 400 thousand naira to the inmates.
The State Health Insurance Scheme is organised to enable people who work to contribute for health delivery according to their capability into a pool of funds. It is expected that the pool of money will enable government take care of the health needs of those who have and those unable to cater for most of their health needs. The arrangement is seen as a welcome development for citizens, the state and workers who have not been able to take advantage of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Most of the inmates are among the 760 awaiting trial. The governor urged the inmates to see their stay in prison as an avenue through which they would ponder over their lives both present and future and utilise the opportunity to re-position themselves.
Earlier in his homily, the celebrant Most Rev. Valerian Okeke expressed appreciation to the governor for supporting the prison inmates, describing him as the most prisoner-friendly governor so far in the history of the state. The Archbishop reminded the prisoners not to see their situation as the end of the world but to utilise it to the glory of God. Archbishop Okeke announced that the Archdiocese would within three years construct a modest skill acquisition center in the prisons to allow them use their time gainfully.
Most Rev Okeke promised to give the inmates a live cow in addition to bags of rice. He brought with him cooked rice, toiletries, and biscuits among other items for the celebration, and later toured the cells with governor Obiano which he explained the Archdiocese had tiled and fixed ceiling fans and sunk boreholes to supply water to all the cells.
Also in his vote of thanks, the Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha Archdiocese Most Rev Dennis Isiuzo regretted that the inmates are mostly young and thanked the governor for not only arranging for the Skills acquisition training and re-integration of the 25 inmates he granted amnesty but also the promise to give them one million Naira each to start life anew. Most rev Isiuzo said a good state is measured by how the poor and down trodden are treated for which Anambra is rated high.
Earlier, the comptroller of prisons Mr. Anthony Ubaike, and the deputy comptroller Onitsha prison Mr. Alex Oditah recalled that Governor Obiano is the only governor that visited and granted amnesty to 25 inmates, and gave them soft landing with cash and skill acquisition.
The high points of the event were the cutting of the birthday cake and a novelty football match with the inmates.