By Alex Uangbaoje, Sokoto
World Health Organization (WHO), European Union (EU) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has urged benefitting communities of the improved health facilities in Sokoto State, funded by the EU, to take advantage of the facilities by making use of them and treating them as their own project in terms of it’s maintenance.
Speaking during a field inspection exercise in Sokoto on Friday, Dr Andrew Mbewe, Head of Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health of WHO, noted that the project have recorded an appreciable progress, particularly in improving the health data storage system and streamlining the health registry in state.
He added that the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) component of the programme had been established, while calling for the support of donor and government agencies in efforts to improve the documentation of vital health issues.
According to him, the activities of the centre would facilitate the identification of diseases and the use of collated data in decision making and formulating appropriate policies.
Mbewe urged benefiting communities to use the health centres and ensure the vaccination of children against child killer diseases.
He said in spite of some challenges facing the programme, its implementation had been smooth in line with the set objectives.
Similarly, Dr Sanjana Bhardwaj, UNICEF Chief of Health, expressed satisfaction over the implementation of the 70 million-euro health projects in the State, adding that the projects were progressing steadily in spite of some perceptible challenges facing immunisation, nutrition and other schemes.
Bhardwaj called on the benefiting communities to appreciate the importance of the programme, which was particularly targeted at improving their health conditions.
She advised them to take advantage of the services and access the facilities provided in the health projects, while considering the programme as their own.
Earlier, Mr Kurt Cornelis, the Minister Counsellor and Head of Cooperation, European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said that the programme was aimed at straightening the communication channels in local government areas, primary health centres and ministries.
He said that the visit was to interact with key players and community leaders, as part of efforts to secure direct reactions to the progress and challenges in the implementation of the programme.
Cornelis said that appreciable progress had been made in the area of knowledge sharing and disease surveillance.
He said that the overall exercise was aimed at strengthening the health system as a whole, adding that at present, the immunisation coverage and the reform of health information system had improved.
Cornelis, however, appealled to the government to improve its budgetary allocation to the health sector, while advising community members to use the health facilities and cooperate with health officials.
He condoled with the people of Gandi and Tabanni where gunmen attacked and killed over 40 people, pledging that the development partners would look into how to assist the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the IDPs camp.
He, however, commended the authorities for their efforts to assuage the plight of the displaced persons in the camp.
During a courtesy visit to the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar III, the monarch commended the EU and other agencies for their support and assured them of the traditional rulers’ continued support for their projects.
Abubakar pledged the commitment of the traditional rulers to the fulfilment of the health projects and others aimed at improving the people’s well-being.
Commenting on the programme, Alhaji Mustapha Ali, the Permanent Secretary, Sokoto State Ministry of Health, said that the programme had improved routine immunisation coverage in the state to about 40 per cent.
He said that state government officials were vigorously working towards the actualisation of the work plans, adding that the health centres were currently equipped with android phones to report cases to designated centres.
Ali said that traditional birth attendants were given child delivery kits in order to improve their healthcare delivery.
The programme was launched in February 2017. The delegation has inspected health facilities and activities at Kofar Rini and Kofar Kade Primary Health Care centres in Sokoto North and Sokoto South Local Government Areas.