The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a flagship health activity to save most vulnerable Nigerians.
The new initiative, which is in collaboration with the Federal Government, is aimed at helping five states to improve access to primary health care services, essential commodities and increase demand for services.
The five-year $225 million Integrated Health Programme (IHP) will be implemented in Bauchi, Kebbi and Sokoto states with two more states to be added soon.
IHP will contribute to revitalising primary health care by helping the states’ health systems to upgrade clinics and employ an integrated model for a full complement of high-quality round-the-clock health services in every ward.
Implemented by Palladium International with a coalition of international and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in partnership with the states, IHP will contribute to reducing preventable deaths of mothers and children under the age of five.
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The activity will help the states to address direct and underlying causes of maternal and child mortality and assist them to increase their revenues for health to boost the capacity of primary health care delivery.
Currently, Bauchi, Kebbi, and Sokoto states are struggling to maintain good health indicators for mothers and children.
According to the recently released 2018 National Demographic and Health Survey, outcomes for basic health indices in the three states remain below the national average despite some positive trends in health outcomes over the past five years.
Provision of quality maternity and new-born care in health facilities, routine immunisation, early diagnosis and timely treatment of maternal and neonatal complications, malaria, diarrhoea, and pneumonia in primary health care centres and secondary hospitals supported by IHP will improve the health of mothers and children, reducing tragic and unnecessary deaths from preventable disease.
“IHP will bring quality basic health care closer to the people and support Nigeria to achieve universal health coverage,” USAID Mission Director Stephen M. Haykin said at the launch.
Haykin added: “Providing the population, a fighting chance to grow up healthy and reach its potential is critical for Nigeria to build its future on a strong, hardy foundation for the generations to come.”
The Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health Mr. Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi said the initiative came at the right time.
Abdullahi said: “The IHP has come at a very auspicious time when the Federal Government is implementing the Basic HealthCare Provision Fund (BHCPF) as part of our journey towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).”
The permanent secretary noted that the BHCPF was in fulfilment of the provision of the National Health Act for sustainable financing of our PHC system and emergency services.
He added that “under the BHCPF, a PHC Centre in each Political Ward of the 36 States and FCT will be funded directly through the gateways (NPHCDA and NHIS) to take care of the basic health services for every member of the ward covering treatment of Malaria, Respiratory Tract Infections treatment and Diarrheal Diseases Management in Children, Routine Immunisation, Antenatal and Childbirth Services for pregnant women, among others”.
Abdullahi said: “It is our expectation that the IHP will leverage on this opportunity and other ongoing interventions for greater synergy in achieving the objectives of the project in the three supported states.
“This is indeed an enabler for the rapid transformation of the Reproductive, Maternal, New-born, Child and Adolescent Health plus Nutrition (RMNCAH+N) situation in the Northwest and Northeast Geo-Political Zones which the States represent.
“The Federal Ministry of Health looks forward to sharing the success stories from the respective states as we impact positively on the lives of our people through provision of comprehensive quality healthcare services.”
Responding on behalf of the beneficiary states, Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Alhaji Suleiman Argungu, expressed appreciation to the Federal Government and USAID for choosing the three states to benefit from the programme.
Argungu said the maternal and child health was a priority within the framework of Universal Health Coverage, adding that the intervention would give additional impetus to primary healthcare centres, in Sokoto, Kebbi and Bauchi.