By Ogochukwu Nwaokafor
The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), has hosted a meeting with the South East traditional Rulers Committee (SETRC) to discuss primary health care delivery in Anambra State.
The event which was held in Awka, June 21, was aimed at enhancing reproductive, maternal, child and adolescent health services and to optimize human resources for health in the South East Region
This was disclosed by the Executive Director and CEO, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Fraisal Shuaib, during the maiden Quarterly Review Meeting.
Speaking at the event, Shuaib said the essence of the meeting with the traditional rulers in the South East was to ensure efficient delivery of healthcare services in their areas.
In his words, ‘The traditional rulers, as custodians of our cultural heritage, possess the power to mobilise and unite communities, as well as shape the health landscape in the region. The monarchs’ endorsement of primary healthcare initiatives can significantly impact public perception and behavior.’
He encouraged the monarchs to use their positions to raise awareness about the importance of preventive care, early detection, and regular health check-ups.
Shuaib, who was represented by the Director, Disease Control and Immunization (DCI), Bassey Okposen, emphasized the benefits of timely intervention and the potential life-saving impact of health services. He said adequate knowledge of healthcare services, such as immunization, when passed to the community members, could empower them to take charge of their health and well-being.
Speaking further, the Director implored the monarchs to engage with policy makers, government officials, and relevant stakeholders, to advocate for increased investment in primary healthcare, adding that the traditional rulers were gatekeepers of their communities; hence in a unique position to promote health-seeking behavior.
He also said their personal involvement and endorsement of primary healthcare services could enhance trust and confidence among the population.
‘Collaborating with healthcare professionals and experts, we can disseminate accurate information about immunization, nutrition, family planning and other crucial aspects of primary healthcare. By dispelling doubts and promoting evidence-based practices, we can create a society that is well-informed and equipped to make informed health decisions,’ Shuaib said.
In the same vein, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, said a new vaccine known as Papillomanvirus (HPV) would be introduced into its routing immunization schedule for 2023 and 2024 in the country.
Mulombo who was represented by Chimuanya Igboekwu, said the HPV vaccines protected against the risk of cervical cancer, which, according to him, was the second most common cancer among women in Nigeria.
He added that the vaccine’s introduction would be a significant step in alleviating avoidable illness and deaths due to cervical cancer.
He further urged the monarchs to support the new vaccine introduction through availing the target age group 9-14 years in their communities when it became available. He reassured that WHO would continue to work with the government and other partners to increase accessibility to newer vaccines for wider protection from vaccine presentable diseases.
Earlier at the event, Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, represented by his deputy, Onyeka Ibezim, emphasized the need for community ownership of health care system in the state.
The governor stressed that his administration had taken a bottom-top approach towards ensuring that the healthcare system in the state was functional.