The Central tenet of Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) is that quality health services should be accessible to everyone, irrespective of where they live and without them suffering financial hardship.
To achieve this course, the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative in Nigeria (WR), Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, in the company of the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib paid an advocacy visit to the governor of Zamfara state, Dr Dauda Lawal Dare, to discuss the revitalization agenda of Primary Health Care (PHC) in the state, targeted to improve access to quality health care for all, particularly among the vulnerable population.
Receiving the delegation at the Government House recently, Zamfara State Governor, Dr Dauda Lawal Dare, appreciated the team’s visit to the state, despite its current security challenges.
During the interactive session, Dr Lawal stated that health is a major focus area for his administration.
He pledged to ensure that counterpart funding for immunization and PHC are given due consideration and that delay or defaulting will be a problem of the past.
Strengthening health interventions
In his remark, Dr Mulombo, pointed out the historic role that the state is expected to play in the interruption of circulating Variant Poliovirus type-2 (cVPV2), especially in security-compromised areas in the country.
So far this year, Zamfara state has the highest case notification of cVPV2 (21) in the country.
Dr Mulombo entreated the governor to harness innovative strategies to reach all zero-dose children with lifesaving vaccines and to take full ownership of health activities across all sectors, with partners’ support and collaboration with stakeholders, including community leaders.
Zero doses children refer to children who failed to receive any routine vaccination.
Re-affirming continuing technical support of WHO to the state, the WR implored the governor to use his vast experience as a banker to support health financing in the state.
“This visit is significant with the hope of creating and adopting policies and strategies to enable the state to control and prevent vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs), including the recent highly effective response to the outbreak of cVPV2, and the ongoing PHC revitalization, he said.
Likewise, Dr Shuaib solicited for the State Government to prioritize immunization, Supplementary Immunization Activities (SIA) and other integrated PHC services as a means to drive the state forward and change the current suboptimal indices in the state.
Call for PHC services
It is worth noting that Zamfara State is of peculiar concern as a result of its health indices.
Some of the challenges affecting health service delivery in the state include the shortage of skilled health workers and the rising level of insecurity across all 14 Local Government Areas (LGAs), therefore impacting negatively on immunization and health services.
Recall that despite the prevailing security in the state, Zamafara State in collaboration with NPHCDA and WHO recently implemented a polio campaign and was able to immunize children in previously inaccessible areas which serve as reservoirs for the virus.
Through various innovations and upscaled efforts, over 600,000 children in insecure settlements were reached for the first time in four states sustaining the transmission of cVPV2, triggering commendation from the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB).
As such, Dr Mulombo believes that “Zamfara can do it and if Zamfara does it, then Nigeria can do it, Africa can do it and the world can do it”
Meanwhile, WHO continues to support the state to sustain the wild poliovirus (WPV)-free status through the polio eradication program, providing technical and financial assistance to respond to outbreaks of Meningitis, Measles, Cholera and Yellow fever promptly and adequately, as well as support the state’s effort in PHC revitalization through integrated supportive supervision of essential services including, immunization and capacity building of routine immunisation providers, surveillance, Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child Adolescent Health and Nutrition, HIV/TB, Malaria, Non-communicable diseases prevention and control, data management and feedback.
Support for Polio eradication in Nigeria through WHO is made possible by funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gavi, Vaccine Alliance and the GPEI partners.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – Nigeria.