BY VINCENT UJUMADU, AWKA
THE United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has begun a collaborative effort with authorities in health care delivery in Anambra State for the purpose of repackaging Primary Health Care, PHC, system in the state.
Apart from officials of the state’s Primary Health Care Development Agency, PHCDA, who anchored the programme at a week long training in Enugu, others in attendance were the state commissioner for health, Dr. Josephat Akabuike, the permanent secretary and all directors in the ministry, heads of PHC in the 21 local government areas of the state and top officials of the Local Government Service Commission, including the chairman, Dr. Peter Egenti. Three civil society organizations namely, the Civil Society Network, Civil Rights Concern and Health Foundation Reforms of Nigeria, also formed part of the programme.
The programme was one of the areas of intervention by the UNICEF to improve quality of life, and officials of the world body had consistently urged policy makers in the state to take such programmes serious in the overall interest of the people.
UNICEF Health Specialist, Dr. Ifenyinwa Anyayo, explained that though the package had been existing at the national level, the world body decided to replicate it in the state to reach out to a larger population.
The training programme was collaboration between the Anambra State Primary Health Care Development Agency (ASPHCDA) and UNICEF with the objective of improving the delivery services of Primary Health Care Centers in the 21 local government areas of the state.
According to Anyayo, the idea was for the state to domesticate the outcome of the training as it would lead to the reduction in mortality and morbidity among pregnant woman, as well as childhood killer diseases among children in the state.
She urged the health authorities to develop a document that would serve as a reference document for Anambra State concerning any form of work in the area of Primary Health Care, PHC, delivery system.
Essentially, the Enugu workshop was for the development of minimum service package for primary health care facilities in Anambra State and the ultimate goal was to have three functional PHC facilities in each of the 326 political wards in the state. Already, the agency had renovated 63 primary health care centres, three in each local government area of the state.
The executive secretary of the Anambra State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Chioma Ezenyimulu said that before the commencement of the Enugu workshop, stakeholders held a two-day technical meeting to define standards for primary health care facilities in the state.
Ezenyimulu said: “When a facility is designated as a health post, the scope of that facility has to be determined. For instance, we have to determine the minimum number of staff that should be working in that facility, the basic minimum equipment that should be in it, as well as the mix of skills of the professionals.
“The UNICEF sponsored this event and the organization has been partnering with the state, especially as it concerns health. This programme is one in the series of sponsorships, which UNICEF would carry out in Anambra State. The next in line will be development of guidelines for Anambra Primary Health Care Development Agency. It is like a retreat for the health sector in Anambra State.”
According to Ezenyimulu, there is already a law guiding the operations of the agency, explaining that the next in the series of seminars would involve members of the Anambra State House of Assembly.
She explained that the agency would produce a document at the end of the programmes, which would be published to serve as a standard for the state in the area of primary health care delivery.
She said that the model PHC, which the agency intends to build in all the 326 wards of the state will have boreholes for potable water supply, back up for improving the skills of the professionals and provide them with alternative power supply.
“We want them to be the centres for basic health providers for the proposed state health insurance scheme. We would ensure that they are in such a standard that would enable them to compete favorably with other private health facilities,” she further said.
According to her, it was the structure the agency put in place that made it possible for Anambra State to come second in the National Immunization exercise for all the states, adding that all the children in the state had been enumerated to ensure that no child was left out during immunization exercises.
She identified inadequate funding as the greatest challenge the agency had, noting that although the agency’s programmes were captured in this year’s budget, accessing the funds from that budget had remained a great challenge.
“Luckily however, our partnership with UNICEF and other agencies had kept us afloat,” she added.