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Pandemic: FG begins nationwide training of 200,000 health workers

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The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has commenced a nationwide Training of Trainers (NTOT) for over 200,000 primary health care personnel to equip them with skills that would help them respond appropriately to suspected cases of COVID-19.

Addressing the facilitators and trainees, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, observed that the novel Coronavirus has overwhelmed countries even with strong and resilient health systems with an enormous toll on human lives.

Ehanire noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has advocated for an aggressive preparedness “and improved efforts to contain the outbreak and protect health workers and citizens in all countries.”

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The minister said that as Nigeria migrates to the community transmission phase of the virus, it has become imperative to train and sensitise our primary healthcare workers who are the first point of call and contact by clients in the communities.

He said: “The primary health care workers manning Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities are strategically positioned to contribute to the decisive actions required to curb this scourge. They can protect themselves, identify and refer suspected cases of COVID-19 at the facility and community levels, trace contacts of suspected cases and monitor the adherence to quarantine and self-isolation directives to contacts.”

Ehanire recalled that “the capability of the PHC workers to engage the grassroots was very essential in our near eradication of Polio and the decisive control of Ebola in 2014,” adding that the country was drawing on the same skills to support the next phase of the COVlD-19 outbreak response.

“Most PHC workers require additional skills and knowledge to adequately and effectively respond to COVID-19 outbreak. To do this, they must therefore be provided with the requisite training at this level. It is therefore commendable that the NPHCDA and development partners have come up with a comprehensive PHC guide and training plan to provide the strategic direction required to reduce the devastating effect of community transmission.

“The overall objective is to improve knowledge, build capacity and skills of PHC workers and relevant community resource groups to respond appropriately to COVID-19 suspected cases while continuing to provide quality PHC services and addressing other safety concerns during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The continuation of services, including ante-natal care is particularly important,” he stressed.

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Also speaking, Executive Director/CEO of the NPHCDA Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said the agency knew there was the possibility of community transmission of the virus early in the day and had prepared documents on PHC workers’ preparedness and response to COVID-19, which were shared with all the relevant stakeholders across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT six weeks to the commencement of the training programme.

Shuaib said the training was aimed at halting community transmission of COVID-19 in the country and also to ensure the free flow of quality PHC services.

He disclosed that over 200 participants drawn from across the 36 states and the FCT were involved with the first phase of the three-day National Online Training.

According to him, the training would be cascaded down from the national level to state and local council levels where over 220,000 primary health care workers would receive capacity building.

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