FG moves for better primary healthcare system
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, advised that the best way to tackle challenges of healthcare delivery in the country is to address shortage of skilled workers at Primary Healthcare (PHC) facilities across the federation.
He noted that the nation makes up only two per cent of world population, yet accounts for 14 per cent of global maternal death burden, and also loses 2,500 children under the age of five daily due largely to preventable causes, occasioned by lack of services that skilled birth attendants could provide.
Speaking at the launch of Community-based Health Research Innovative Training and Services Programme (CRISP) in Abuja, Osinbajo, who observed that 80 per cent of the deaths occur at the primary healthcare and community levels, advocated swift implementation of the initiative to reverse the unsavoury situation.
He submitted: “There is not a single country in the world that can boast of effective healthcare delivery without adequate and well-distributed human resource for health. No matter how much of a masterpiece the architecture of a health facility is, or how sophisticated the equipment are, or even the availability of the commodities, a health care delivery system will not function optimally if there are not enough skilled workers.”
Represented by the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Talen, the Vice President described CRISP as an innovative programme aimed at addressing the “most critical challenges facing our health sector in Nigeria like the dearth of human resource for health, especially at primary healthcare level.”
He stressed that effective implementation of the initiative would address universal health coverage and ensure reduction in preventable maternal and child mortalities in the country.
In his speech, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, indicated that inadequate human resource was discouraging the available professionals from discharging their services in rural communites. Instead, they opt for urban settings.
He explained that the CRISP initiative “is one of our programmatic ways of achieving the first of our interrelated four-point agenda on PHC transformation in Nigeria. CRISP is a partnership among the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), tertiary teaching hospitals, Federal Medical Centres (FMCs), State Primary Health Care Boards, Local Government Areas and communities to support PHC development.
“The initiative will leverage our teaching hospitals and FMCs in all states of the federation to pool skilled healthcare workers for PHCs, where they will routinely provide services and mentorship, as well as build capacity of the PHC workers. CRISP has been carefully conceptualised and designed in ways that would be helpful towards realisation of government’s vision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” Ehanire added.
NPHCDA Executive Director, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, in his presentation, said though Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, it also boasts of the unenviable record of the worst health indices.
He noted that in a world, where people are living up to over 100 years, the life expectancy of Nigerians still hovers around 54, adding that with the way the country is going, “we are not on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or UHC by 2030.
World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Mulombo, pointed out that the strength of every health system reflects the capacity and adequacy of its health workforce, which are necessary to deliver quality services.
He said Nigeria has over time experienced chronic under-investment in planning, education, training, employment and working conditions of health workers, adding that the mismatch between education and employment strategies in relation to health systems and population needs is contributing to continuous shortages.
For a resilient and effective health system, Mulombo stressed that Nigeria must have adequate numbers of health workers, who are fit for purpose, motivated to perform, and equitably distributed, especially at the PHC level to enhance equity in access to their services.
He expressed the hope that CRISP would tap into the existing human resources for health and bridge the skills gap at PHCs by leveraging the expertise at higher levels of care.
The WHO official went on: “This needs to be well thought out, so as not to make the PHCs an extension of the tertiary hospitals, but to continue to provide primary health services to meet the population’s priority health needs. The plan to recruit health workers and deploy them to PHC facilities across the country is very commendable.
“WHO Nigeria will be with you to provide technical support to the CRISP of NPHCDA to achieve its aims. We will work with you to develop strategies to improve the performance and retention of health workers in rural and remote areas. This programme came at a time when WHO has been awarded a grant of GBP 2 million by the government of the United Kingdom to support Nigeria to strengthen its health workforce towards achieving UHC.”
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