By Hassan Zaggi
The Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ), has called on the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, to put machinery in place to achieve 100 per cent Routine Immunisation (RI) rate coverage in Nigeria.
ANHEJ made the call in a statement signed by its President and General Secretary, Hassan Zaggi and Gloria Essien, respectively, in Abuja, yesterday.
The group maintained that considering the achievements recorded by the NPHCDA under the leadership of Dr. Shuaib in the past four years, achieving 100 per cent routine immunization coverage is “doable.”
ANHEJ further charged Dr. Shuiab to work towards ensuring that all child killer diseases are eliminated from the country in the next four years.
The group commended President Muhammadu Buhari for reappointing Dr. Shuaib to head the NPHCDA for another four years, saying that it is having huge expectation on the agency in the next four years.
“One most important expectation is that, Dr. Shuaib must build on the achievement of his first tenure to attain 100% RI immunization rate in Nigeria. This is doable.
“In the next four years, ANHEJ expects that all child-killer diseases including measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases are totally eradicated from Nigeria.
“ANHEJ also expects that Nigerian children and mothers will get nothing short of best healthcare services in all PHCs across the country regardless of the location.”
On its part, ANHEJ, a group of journalists with representatives from over 40 media houses in Nigeria covering activities in the health sector, vowed continue to support, monitor and follow closely the programmes to be initiated by the NPHCDA in the next four years.
ANHEJ further appealed to the federal government, local and international donors and key stakeholders in the health sector to continue to support the NPHCDA for the sake of Nigerian children and mothers.
While saying that the reappointment of Dr. Shuaib to pilot the affairs of the NPHCDA was well deserved, ANHEJ noted that: “Indeed, this did not take the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) by surprise considering the achievements Dr. Shuaib recorded in the past four years.
“As journalists covering the activities of the NPHCDA and the entire health sector, we can attest to the fact that since assumption of office 2017, Dr. Shuaib brought with him a unique management style and an unprecedented experience that improved the performance of the agency.
“ANHEJ can also attest to the fact that the 4-point agenda which include closing out on polio, strengthening Routine Immunization (RI), PHC revitalization, strengthening governance and accountability introduced by Dr. Shuaib, aimed at reversing the country’s poor health indices, have yielded fruitful results.
“Monitoring closely the 4-point agenda, ANHEJ discovered that governance and accountability has improved greatly at NPHCDA compared to the way Dr. Shuaib met it; RI has also improved tremendously.
“The introduction of the National Emergency Routine Immunization Coordination Centre (NERICC) to work out modalities of improving RI, indeed, became a turning point in Nigeria’s immunisation coverage.
“As at 2016, before Dr. Shuaib was appointed, the MICS/NICS report showed the national coverage of routine immunisation of only 33%, however, SMART survey in 2018, indicated an improvement to 57% and a further positive rise to 70.8% in 2019. This, to ANHEJ is a great feat.”