FG targets 20m unreached in 409 LGAs
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
VICE President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday flagged off the Integrated Medical Outreach Programme (I-MOP), a nationwide strategic approach to improve immunization outputs and strengthen primary health care.
The I-MOP is a programme of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, targeting the unreached, underserved and vulnerable communities in 409 Councils in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Flagging off the programme at the Bwari Township Primary Health Care Centre, Abuja, the Vice President said that the health workers will target to reach over 20 million people with free basic healthcare services.
According to him, the flag-off ceremony of the programme was “attempt to take basic healthcare services, health education, basic surgeries and screening for diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, tuberculosis, HIV aids and cancer to these underserved areas.
“Not only does it provide free health services to communities that had never in the past enjoyed those services but it also provides our public health institutions with invaluable disease identification opportunities and outreach lessons.”
Osinbajo explained that the I-MOP intervention was aimed at strengthening and scaling up access to routine Immunization and other primary healthcare (PHC) services in the selected low performing 409 councils in the country.
He encouraged Nigerians and all other nationals residing within the country to take their children under two years to the nearest health facilities for screening and administration of all due antigens.
He said, “The Federal Government of Nigeria maintains a policy to provide immunization services free to all against all vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs).
“All others age groups are also encouraged to visit designated one medical outreach centre per senatorial district during the five days of the I-MOP implementation for basic general medical and surgical consultations/operations.”
On the deadly coronavirus pandemic, Osinbajo applauded Nigeria’s robust proactive preventive efforts led by the Minister of Health and his team which have been widely praised.
Osinbajo said: “But the threat is not over and as you know only a few days ago Mr President directed that a readiness review be undertaken covering both the economy and healthcare services and that report has been submitted to him.
“We are also examining the readiness of our health facilities for whatever eventualities may arise.
“Meanwhile we urge all Nigerians to continue to observe the hygiene advisories including frequent hand washing and social distancing as much as possible.”
Speaking earlier, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the flag-off of the I-MOP was an important development because it does not just take care of Primary Healthcare (PHC) but tends to be specific.
The Senate President represented by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases, Chukwuka Utazi, said, I-MOP focuses “on immunization, treatment of minor ailments, counselling services, health talks on non-communicable diseases, like hypertension, cancer chronic kidney diseases, stroke and diabetes, among others.
“Adequate healthcare for all is not for the privileged class alone; those in the rural areas deserve care as well.
“I am glad that you have launched this programme to reach them and to assure them that the government cares.”
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the I-MOP was designed to address the identified gaps in primary healthcare in Nigeria.
“Our goal is the development of a resilient and responsive primary healthcare system, which will be the most critical investment this administration would have made in the next level agenda in the health sector,” he said.
The Country Representative of the World Health Organization, WHO, Fiona Braka, said that there has been a global reduction in child mortality over the past three decades.
She said that the WHO African Regional Strategic Plan for Immunisation targets universal immunisation coverage, complete interruption of poliovirus transmission, measles elimination and control of other vaccine-preventable diseases.
The Executive Secretary of the NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said from Monday next week, when the first round of the programme will commence, health workers will offer services in primary healthcare centres and move from settlement to settlement, searching for unreached communities targeting over 20milliom people with free basic healthcare services.
The first round of the I-MOP implementation he said was planned for 23rd to 27th March in the selected 409 LGAs in the 36 states and FCT, while the second round is planned for 20th – 24th April 2020. The third round will take place from 1st – 5th June 2020.
The highlight of the event was the administration of Oral Polio Vaccine and other routine immunization and delivery of commodities eligible children by Vice President Osinbajo, the Minister of Health and other dignitaries present at the event.