Anambra Health Ministry Extends Save One Million Lives Programme to Communities

. . . Trains Over 330 WDC Chairmen for Programme Ownership

By Chioma Ndife

Sequel to the launch and flag-off of Save One Million Lives Programme across various states in Nigeria, the Anambra State Ministry of Health lead by the Commissioner, Hon. Joe Akabuike has commenced plans to extend the programme to the reach of Children between the ages of 0-5years and nursing mothers in various communities within the state.

Speaking to Fides during the training of over 330 Ward Development Committee (WDC) Chairmen on Thursday, February 28, 2019 at King David Hotel and Suites, Awka, the Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Akabuike commended the input which the programme had recorded since it was launched in the state. He explained that the state government through the programme hopes to save up to one million persons from preventable deaths within the year, saying that the programme targeted pregnant women and children. He noted that the training which was organized for the chairmen of all WDCs in state was part of the government efforts to ensure that the programme gets to people at the grass root.

He noted that the involvement of WDCs chairmen who are stakeholders of the communities where the Primary Health Care Centers where located was to ensure that the health centers are functioning properly, noting that the trained members would assist the government to monitor health workers posted in their host communities. He maintained that the WDCs have the oversight function of making sure that things go on well in order to achieve the aim of the programme and charged them to bring to book personnel of the health centers who constantly fail in their line of duty.

Earlier while addressing the WDCs chairmen, Dr. Akabuike noted that the WDCs as co-owners of the health centers in their communities have been empowered through the training to take charge of the happening within the centers. He disclosed the activities of Governor Obiano in health sector, saying the initiated health policy aimed to transform all the primary health centers within the next 5 years. He noted that the partnership which the state government entered into with countries like US among others would guarantee the needed change in all health centers across the state. He beckoned on them to always bear in mind that they are co-owners of Primary Health Centers in their various communities. He highlighted the benefits of various Primary Health Centers sited in most communities and charged the WDCs chairmen to ensure that their communities enroll with the Anambra State Health Insurance Scheme to assist the state government achieve its aim of making health accessible and affordable to all Anambrians, saying communities tend to enjoy the benefits that come with insurance scheme when they become part of the scheme.

Also speaking, the Saving One Million Lives Programme Manager, Mrs. Uchebo Obiakeli, explained that the programme was a federal government intervention programme that would assist in the prevention of preventable deaths of mothers and children. She disclosed that the programme would be achieved through six intervention areas which include making sure that every under 5 child receives vitamin A twice a year to boost the immune system, sleeps inside treated insecticide nets every night to prevent malaria and goes through the whole immunization.

She noted that the programme would also ensure that every pregnant woman goes through the four focal antenatal visits, delivers under a skilled staff in a hospital or health centre that the government knows about, does one form of family planning or other and lastly knows their HIV statues to prevent the child from getting it and the mother from having complications that might arise with such health conditions.

She noted that the training organized for WDCs Chairpersons was embarked upon for it to be extended to other members of the WCDs through the chairpersons in the various host communities where they come from. She described the trained persons as intermediaries that inform the government of various happening in their communities and ensures that government policies were implemented in their communities. He noted that WDCs would serve as an interface between the government and their community.

She revealed that the training was organized for the 330 WDCs chairpersons drawn from various all wards in the state and expressed conviction that through community ownership of services mapped out for the programme, the state government would achieve the federal government of the programme’s establishment.

On his part, the Community Health Services Head in Anambra State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Kanayo Onalu identified the duties which WDCs were expected to carry out in the communities. He beckoned on them to drive the received message home and become part of decision makers as it concerned their health, saying that they can effectively take such decisions by accepting the programme as their own rather than referring it as government programme.

One of the participants who spoke to Fides, Sir Ezekiel Okechukwu from Onitsha North LGA, Main Market Ward, acknowledged that the programme would help to stop preventable deaths with children and their mothers. He promised to drive home the message received in the training to other WCDs members in his ward and ensure the enforcement of the programme.

Fides gathered that while the training was ongoing, Save One Million Lives Programme Executors in Anambra State had a planning meeting with the Education Secretary and other stakeholders to plan on ways to ensure that pupils in various schools within the state access the full entitlement that comes with the programme.