Nigeria takes steps to improve rural health services

Gloria Essien, Abuja

Nigeria’s National Primary healthcare Development Agency has introduced Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Service Providers, CHIPS, for better health care delivery in rural areas of the country.

The Executive Secretary of the agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, made this known at the Inaugural Quarterly Media Interactive Forum in Abuja.

He said that the agency needs people who can work in the localities where they are well known and trusted.

“The Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Service Providers that we are talking about are not doctors. They are women that are going to be identified traditional rulers, political leaders, civil society organisations in the communities as responsible women who have at least elementary school education, who can be trained to provide simple skills. We need people to stay in our rural areas,” he said.

He said that the Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Service Providers are going to be a cadre lower than the Community Health Extension Workers who have abandoned the rural areas to live in the urban areas

He noted that they would be made to stay closer to the households and treat simple conditions and offer first aid services

Polio outreach

The Executive Secretary noted that the pockets of insurgency in Borno state, does not affect the polio emergency outreach in the state.

He said that Nigeria is working towards making sure that every child is vaccinated to prevent new polio outbreaks in the country.

“We would have been done with polio by now. We would have been celebrating that Nigeria had achieved polio eradication of it weren’t for the fact that we had pockets of areas where our health workers could not access the children. And the polio virus has a knack for hiding in places there’s poor accessibility. Poor access is also why Afghanistan and Pakistan have not been able to eradicate polio,” he noted.

He said that NPHCDA has been mounting immunisation campaign to make sure that children are protected from polio.

” We will continue to carry out this campaign to ensure that we build population immunity and keep the virus at bay. Next month we are going out again to have a vaccination campaign to ensure that our children remain protected from the polio virus. At this point of our lives, we should not be tackling viruses like that. We should be done with them and I know we have the capacity to ensure that we eradicate polio,” Dr. Shuaib said.

He added that Polio immunisation has been declared as a health emergency in Borno and other parts of the country.

“It’s been almost a year since we mounted that outbreak response and we have not seen any case of wild polio virus. Even though we have surveillance systems that are in place to look everywhere and detect any polio virus. So, it is our priority that we maintain the momentum and close out any transmission that lingers in Borno or anywhere in the country “.

Agency Restructuring

The Executive Secretary also said that there has been some restructuring at the agency to move stuff to the zones and reduce the concentration on Abuja.

 

“We identified senior and very experienced directors to move to the zones as zonal directors so that they can engage with governors, engage with traditional rulers and solve problems without coming to Abuja,” he explained.

The Inaugural Quarterly Media Interactive Forum was coordinated by the Community Health Research Initiative, CHR.

Speaking earlier, the Coordinator of CHR. Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba, said the forum would not be a one off event as it would be held on quarterly basis.

He said that the forum tagged #OpenNPHCDA is aimed at promoting accountability and transparency in governance.

“We are unlocking the agency to have a robot quarterly interactive dialogue,” he said.

The forum brought together civil society organisations, the media and development partners to chart a way forward for primary health care system in Nigeria.

 

Nnenna.O