By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, on Tuesday, expressed the firm optimism that the task of making Nigeria polio free by the year 2020 is attainable, regardless of any environmental threats.
This is even Dr Shuaib encouraged the governors of the 36 states of the federation, under the aegis of Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), to step up their commitment and advocacy in their respective states towards a sustained primary healthcare programme.
The Executive Director, ED, of the NPHDCA said this in Abuja while fielding questions from Journalists in Abuja.
Dr. Shuaib revealed that his agency, the Federal Ministry of Health as well as development partners are working assiduously towards achieving the goal of certifying Nigeria as a polio free nation with a view to justifying the effort and resources so far committed therein.
It will be recalled that the last reported case of the polio virus anywhere in the country was in 2016, a significant milestone by global standards.
Nigeria is still holed in the dungeon with world polio centres like Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Harping on the importance of reaching that global health status, the Executive Director reasoned that the prospect of certification is one that Nigerians and friends of Nigeria should celebrate.
According to him, “There’s no ambiguity that certification would mean no more polio virus in Nigeria . What it means is that there is no indigenous wild polio virus in Nigeria that would threaten any of our children forever.
“ It means that no child born in Nigeria will ever face the threat of being paralysed or being killed by the wild polio virus.
“So it is huge, it is a significant milestone that collectively, as Nigerians, we would be able to achieve” he declared.
The NPHCDA boss, however, noted that with a few months to the documentation in March 2020, a lot of work is yet to be done towards securing the certification in June 2020, adding that Nigeria still face threats from polio infested nations lime Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Dr Shuiab maintained that the declarations made by the state governors toward ensuring primary healthcare delivery in their domains hold the key to universal healthcare coverage.
He explained the role of NPHCDA is to coordinate and ensure that primary healthcare is delivered to needy Nigeria while the larger part of the responsibility rests with the states.
His words, “It is not the sole responsibility of NPHCDA to make primary healthcare work. It is a joint responsibility of the agency, states and local government areas.
“The states have a huge proportion of that responsibility. Ours is to advocate, to provide oversight, to coordinate and help ensure that primary healthcare is delivered.
“And the reason it is not working is what we are trying to address. For example, we have brought primary healthcare under one roof, sought to remove the fragmentation that has existed in the management of primary healthcare and bought all the interventions under the State primary healthcare board to make delivery of primary healthcare services the primary responsibility of state primary healthcare board.
“This we have done so that all primary healthcare workers in the LGAs ,local government service commission etc are now brought under one roof under the primary healthcare board. So you have one board that can hire and fire” he explained.
The NPHCDA, he further explained, is working hard to drive routine immunisation rates up to 84 percent by 2028, while also providing strategic direction on primary care revitalization and improving Image, strengthen governance and accountability.
He noted with regrets that although Nigeria makes up only 2 percent of the world’s population, “but accounts for 14 percent of the global maternal death burden”.
Continuing, he said, “1 in every 8 Nigerian children dies before their fifth birthday. Nearly 10 percent of new born deaths occur in Nigeria.
“Everyday, Nigeria loses about 2,300 under-5s and 145 women of child bearing age”, he said.
The agency, in its mandate to eradicate polio and limit the occurrence and impact of diseases, is “ using education, immunization and other proven interventions”, adding that it is also improving access to Basic Health Services, make basic health services available by ensuring communities have access to health facilities, services and health insurance.
The NPHCDA, he added, is equally improving quality of care by ensuring thar basic health services are people-oriented and delivered according to established quality standards and protocols.