By Godwin Ekosin in Kaduna
Healthcare advocates under the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health at scale (PACFaH@Scale) recently conducted a research on the ongoing renovation of 255 primary healthcare centres in Kaduna state.
The result of the research was taken to Kaduna State University (KASU) for discussion to inspire academia to embark on research based on that results to see how to collectively improve the health need of people living in the State.
Shortly after the inauguration of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai in 2015, he took the need assessment of key sectors of the economy and prioritised them. Health was one of those things he gave attention to.
As at that time, according to the governor, there was no single primary healthcare center out of over 1,000 centres spread across the 23 local government areas of the state, that befit the status of the State.
After several advocacies and due consultations, the governor came up with the idea of renovating at least, one PHC in each of the 255 political wards in the state. This was supposed to significantly reduce maternal and newborn mortality rate in the state.
Between June 17 and 18 2019, a group called Initiative for Integrated Grassroot Empowerment & Support (IIGES-PACFaH@Scale) visited 255 primary healthcare facilities to determine the status (spot check) of completion of renovation/rehabilitation embarked upon by the Kaduna State government in 2017 and came up with its findings which was discussed in academic environment.
Setting the ground for the discussion at the 1000 sitting capacity theatre inside KASU, Director, IIGES-PACFaH@Scale project and Co-chair, Open Government Partnership, KADUNA State, Mallam Mustapha Jumare said, finding by his organisation revealed that, though the state government has taken steps to address issues in primary healthcare, so much still needed to be done.
For example, out of the 255 PHCs visited by a team of researchers, none of them was operating 24-hour services due to so many reasons including inadequate health workers, conducive working environment and security.
As a result of poor budget for health sector and poor cash backing of the release fund on paper, the bottlenecks hitherto associated with accessibility in term of affordability are still there.
According to the part of that report, 130 of 255 PHCs (representing 53 percent) have a frintline health worker available during the day. 18 (7%) have the recommended four nurses/midwives and 170 (70%) have at least three community health extension workers (JCHEWS).
Also, only 159 of the PHCs visited have at least two health attendants. A total of 18 (7%) of the PHCs visted have pharmacy technician while only 10 (4%) have at least two security personnel.
Dean, Facaulty of Social Sciences, KASU, Dr. Aminu Usman Yusuf, expressed the readiness of the university to take the research further with a view to help the State solve it health issues.
To him, “University is known for research and we as social scientists the core aspect of human life and human activities and we do a lot of research on that area.
“This CS are partnering with us by sharing with us some results of research they have done, their own practical as against our own academic research so that we can jointly look at that research, discuss it and also form our basis and interrogate some of those government’s commitments.
“They have shown that government has made some commitments to upgrade some of the PHCs and what has the government done so far and what need to be done. This is an opportunity for us in social science to also get the data they have generated in coming up with academic research.
“The data presented also highlighted some of the shortcomings of what government has done so far and how do we come in to assist government in determine to do better. They have a very good audience which are students who can also educate their people about what the government is doing and how they can benefit from it. This is a good development for the CS, the university and the government,” he added.
Senior lecturer, Department of Sociology, KASU, DR. James Akpokos, called on the State government to ensure that, competency is not thrown into dust bin anytime the recruitment will take place in its health sector.
“I want to suggest that, when we are recruiting staff for the primary health care system in the State, emphasis should be given on quality and competency.
“That means, getting the right persons who have the prerequisite skills to deliver in their expected task. Priority should not be given base on sympathy or whatever sentiment,” he advised.
Explaining what the State government was doing, Director if PHC, Kaduna State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Iliyasu Neyu said before now, primary healthcare was structured in the ministry if health, local government commission. But now, it has been brought under one roof at the agency where the local government contributes 60% while the State contributes 40%.
According to him, the State government was investing in the health sector and has prioritised its funding in view of the significance of health to the socio economic development of the State.
He also hinted that, arrangement has been made to recruit additional 5,000 health workers starting with 3,059 based on the need assessment earlier carried out by his agency.