By Hassan Zaggi
The massive reforms undertaken by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) have attracted the attention of the United Nations (UN).
This is as the UN agencies in Nigeria have commended the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr. Shuaib Faisal, for taking bold steps aimed at transforming the structure and operations of the agency.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Team Lead, Dr Fiona Baraka, gave the commendation at a meeting on the ‘Operationalization of the Nigeria Strategy for Immunization and PHC System Strengthening (NSIPSS),’ in Abuja.
Speaking on behalf of the UN partners in Nigeria, Dr Baraka said: “This bold steps that are being taken are necessary and they gave us strength to leadership and commitment to resolve the systemic challenges affecting primary health care outcome including immunization.
“As partners we believe Nigeria can turn the tide with the opportunities that are presented at hand. It is very critical that this began to mitigate the consequences of vaccine preventable diseases on health and the associated economic lost in the country.”
Meanwhile the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) have called on the federal government to ensure accountability and transparency on its huge investment to vaccine procurement for immunization in Nigeria.
It would be recalled that recently, GAVI approved over $1 billion grant for vaccine and immunization activities in Nigeria.
Speaking, at the NSIPSS meeting, the Managing Director, Country Program GAVI, Dr Hind Othman Khatib, reiterated the need for the government to ensure that the over $1bn investment already made in the nation’s immunisation programme was spent judiciously in order save the lives of children across the country.
Earlier, the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal lamented the inability of the primary healthcare system to provide citizens with essential services necessary for their well-being.
He linked the poor standards within the sector to government’s inability to put in place an accountability system that will stand the test of time.
“Let us not be shy. Let’s confront the truth about the way things are working. We all know the standards are falling. We agree in our private conversations that we can do better whether we are government or partners.
“When Ebola came calling, we pulled our resources together again. The common thread in all those times when we pulled our heads and shoulders above water was the fact that everyone was held accountable.
“Do we still have those tenets in our system? I am afraid, no,” he said.
Faisal, however, assured that the government would reform the sector in a positive way by putting in place a lasting framework that would hold key actors accountable for the failures or successes within the nation’s primary healthcare space.
“We have to do something radically different. Today our aim is how we can hold everybody accountable, starting from the Minister of Health, the Executive Director all the way to the health care providers.
“As we build an accountability framework that will drive the work that we will do, let it be also about strengthening our institutions,” the NPHCDA boss reiterated.