By Victoria Ojeme & Ene Ocheme
Niger State Government has vowed to tackle the challenges confronting primary healthcare services in the state.
The Deputy Governor Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Ketso made this known at the town hall meeting on primary health services in Minna.
According to Ketso , the issues of primary health care will continue to be top on the agenda of our Government, because it is the first point of contact for the community.
He said, “This is also the basic health services available to our women and children. He explained that the centers will drive the vision of reducing material and child morbidity and mortality rate.
“Health care is one of the priorities of restoring mandate. And also they will continue to demonstrate commitment through revamping of focal primary health centers across their wards. He also assured the people of the government’s priority of developing and bringing services closer to the community.”
He urged all stakeholders to continue to provide purposeful, positive feedback that will improve the system, adding that it would channel the efforts, knowledge and resources towards excellence and avoid unnecessary negative posture and criticisms.
In his remarks, National Coordinator, White Ribbon Alliance in Nigeria, Tonte Ibraye, said there was need for government at all levels to prioritize maternal, newborn and child health.
He said that as one of the organisations that pushed for the passage into law of the former National Health Bill, they believe that full implement of the Act will transform the face of healthcare services in Nigeria.
He argued that government’s inability to implement some of the provisions of the Act is seen a big setback towards attaining health equality in Nigeria.
According to him, Section 11 (1) of the Health Act created an intervention fund, to be known as Basic Health Care Provision Fund, to be financed from Federal Government Annual Grant of not less than one per cent of its Consolidated Revenue Fund, grants by international donor partners; and as well as funds from any other source.
He added that Section 3 of the Act which stipulates how the money is to be expended, provides that 50 per cent of the fund shall be used for the provision of basic minimum package of health services to citizens, in eligible primary/or secondary health care facilities through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS, while also providing that 20 per cent be dedicated to the provision of essential drugs, vaccines and consumables for eligible primary health care facilities.
Ibraye said “I believe that with the provision, there will be more resources for the primary health care agencies to improve their work around improving healthcare services at the grassroots level.”
“Apart from pushing for more resources for health, we are also pushing for more health for the resources as well. That is why we are here in Niger State today to speak directly with citizens and community members and hear from them directly about the quality care they are receiving.”
In addition, the Director, Niger State Primary Health Care Development Authority, Dr Fati Shiekh Abdullahi said that with the Ward Health Development Committee (WHDC), government’s approach to health care is no longer a top down approach, it is going to be bottom-top approach which means starting it from the community.
She said “The communities have to know what they want and they bring it up and we work together. Any health intervention will be planned with the community.”
She said that the WHDC was established mainly to improve community and utilization of health facilities and that they have structures that act like an interface between the health facility and the community.
“They play a role in channeling community voices on health issues and demanding accountability for service delivery,” she added.
According to Abdullahi, the WHDC “plans for general health activities in the ward and coordinate all components of primary health activities. They carry out community mobilisation for health activities and they participate in the supervision of health interventions. They undertake local resource mobilisation, appoint local resource persons; participate in daily tracking and monitoring of routine immunization in the catchment area.”
She said the committees is made of the traditional ruler of the community acting as a patron, thee counselor of the ward, ward focal persons, religious leaders, representatives of NGOs, school heads and professional groups, women leaders, traditional healers and patent medicine dealers.
She added that among others included are traditional birth attendants, youth groups, water and sanitation committee, community women leaders, community based management chairman, community based organizations and village development committee chairmen.