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Bauchi Dep Gov Opens 2023 State Primary Health Care Annual Retreat

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:Reaffirms govt’s readiness to achieving universal healthcare coverage

The Bauchi State Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Mohammed Auwal Jatau, Wednesday reaffirmed the readiness of the present administration towards strengthening the state’s primary healthcare system by expanding access to essential healthcare services in a bid to achieving universal healthcare coverage.

Auwal Jatau who is the chairman of the State Task Force on Primary Healthcare gave the assurance while declaring open, the 2023 annual retreat of the State Primary Healthcare held at Maidugu Guest palace in Gombe state and recalled that, the retreat is an annual activity planned under the Primary Health Care Memorandum of Understanding (PHC-MoU) arrangement to review performance, identify challenges and proffer solutions to PHC service delivery in the state.

The Deputy Governor also said that the retreat is aimed at supporting the administration to lay foundation for a strong and resilient healthcare system that is capable of meeting the diverse needs of the population, and noted that, it is through primary healthcare that universal health coverage can be achieved leaving no one behind.

“As you all know, the administration of our amiable governor, His Excellency Sen. Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed CON, (Kauran Bauchi) has the people of Bauchi State at heart. This is evident on the strides the administration has made in strengthening our primary healthcare system by expanding access to essential healthcare services, particularly in rural a areas.

“We have invested in the training and deployment of healthcare workers, ensuring that there is a skilled workforce available to deliver quality care. It may interest you to know that in the Health Sector, our administration has constructed, rehabilitated, upgraded, and equipped many health care facilities across the state to provide qualitative health care services, in addition to strengthen our Drug Revolving Fund to ensure the availability of affordable essential drugs, and other medical consumables.”

Auwal Jatau pointed out that, provision of qualitative health services will only be achieved with the availability of adequate Human Resource, hence the decision of Governor Bala Mohammed to recruit over 1,000 health workers across different cadres of the health profession with the re-introduction of the pre-service scheme.

He told the participants of the retreat that the Bauchi state government in its 2024 Budget, has maintained the allocation of the 15% of the State Budget to the Health Sector in line with the Abuja Declaration, and will continue to ensure timely release of the funds and therefore reiterated the Governor’s commitment towards the fulfillment of the government’s obligations of payment of all counterpart funds and financial arrangements with other government and non-governmental organizations.

“Unlike the previous retreat, this year, we have planned to conduct a holistic appraisal of the Primary Health Care Systems of the State. This is why the scope and participation have been expanded to include all stakeholders. In view of the prevailing public health challenges in the state, especially the outbreak of vaccine preventable diseases experienced this year, the theme for this year’s retreat is tagged “Towards Addressing the Menace of Vaccine Preventable Diseases in Bauchi State.

“The Objectives of this year’s Primary Health Care Retreat include reviewing the implementation status of the action points from the last year’s Retreat and the quarter 3, 2023 State Task Force meeting, to review the performance of the 2023 PHC Annual Operational Plan including financial burning rate, to present the 2024 PHC Annual Operational Plan for Review and Endorsement by State Task Force on Primary Health Care and to review the performance of Maternal and Child Health Services, especially the Strategies of reaching Immunization Zero-Dose ChildrenTo evaluate the achievements and challenges experienced during the implementation of the Human Papilloma Virus Mass Vaccination Campaign among others.

“At the end of the retreat, we are expected to achieve robust strategies for addressing challenges of Zero-Dose and other Maternal and Child Health Services uptake, robust Incidence Plan for Disease Surveillance and Outbreak Response and Sustainable Roadmap towards Improving Routine Immunization and periodic Mass Vaccination Campaigns among others.”

He once again called on stakeholders in the Health Sector at all levels to ensure the institutionalization of credible accountability framework on the utilization of all funds being invested in healthcare service provision, particularly at Primary Health Care Facilities as this is necessary for the improvement of access and utilization of health services for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage.

The Deputy Governor therefore appreciated development partners for their numerous support to the state and assured that as the Chairman of the State Task Force on Primary Healthcare, of government’s readiness of taking bold and decisive actions as well as promoting evidence-based policies and programs that address the root causes of health disparities.

In their seperate remarks, the State Commissioner of Health, Dr Adamu Sambo, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ali Babayo and the Executive Chairman of the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Rilwanu Mohammed appreciated the administration of Governor Bala Mohammed for prioritizing the health sector.

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Health

Ensure Regular Check-ups To Prevent Blindness – Dr. Avar

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By Sani Yarima

Dr. Gideon Avar, an Ophthalmologist, emphasized the importance of regular check-ups for individuals aged forty years and above to prevent blindness. 

As the Medical Director of Nobis Eye Centre in Jalingo, Taraba State, Dr. Avar disclosed this while speaking with journalists at the Nobis VIP Eye Clinic located at Mile Six.

Despite the challenges faced by his clinic, Dr. Avar mentioned that they are making sacrifices to assist patients by reducing the cost of their medical bills.

He explained that most of their services are charity work, and as part of their social corporate responsibility, they have provided four boreholes in their host community to provide free water to people.

Dr. Avar urged individuals, particularly those over the age of forty, to prioritize regular check-ups, as prevention is better than cure. 

He also revealed that cataracts and glaucoma are the leading causes of blindness in Nigeria, adding that the hospital is conducting eye surgery for approximately 3000 people annually. 

Furthermore, Dr. Gedion Avar pointed out that the hospital has also offered services at a cheaper rate for the sake of the easter period. 

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Wateraid To Ensure Bauchi Has Access To Clean Water, Decent Toilets, Good Hygiene – Country Director

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Dr Evelyn Mere, Country Director of WaterAid Nigeria, said Wateraid, state government with the support of global supply chain solutions provider DP World would ensure more people within Bauchi state have access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

She stated this in a press statement made available to newsmen on Friday in Bauchi

According to her, Bauchi is a focal state for WaterAid over the next five years, and we hope to keep working with the government and our partners to ensure more people within the state have access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

“In the face of climate change, access to water is becoming increasingly difficult and this has huge implications for health, nutrition, gender equity and economic productivity.

“We deeply appreciate the support of DP World in helping us to reach even more people with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

“These essential services help change lives, especially for women and girls, who bear a huge burden of searching for water, missing out on more productive activities such as education and business.” she said.

The statement also pointed out that the Group Chief Sustainability Officer, DP World, Maha AlQattan reflects on the expansion.

Said “At DP World, we aim to make a difference in the communities where we operate. In Mozambique, we are working alongside WaterAid to advance community wellbeing and environmental sustainability.

Now, we are expanding our support to Nigeria, to reach thousands more people with water services, enhancing good hygiene and improving sanitation, ensuring resilient progress in the face of climate challenges.

“Our commitment is to not only construct solar-powered water facilities and public toilets but also empower local women and youngsters to help foster sustainable communities.”AlQattan said

The statement said the International not-for-profit WaterAid and global supply chain solutions provider DP World have teamed up for a second time to launch a new project to ramp up access to sustainable climate-resilient clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in Bauchi State,

“The venture aims to tackle the challenges faced as a result of the climate crisis and rapid urbanization, and will reach over 15,000 people.

“Among those to benefit mostly include women and girls who are often burdened with the task of walking for miles to collect water, forcing them to sacrifice their education or opportunity to work and live autonomous lives.

“Bauchi State is the seventh most populous state in Nigeria, with a population of over 6.5 million. However, less than 1 in 5 people (18%) has access to basic water and hygiene services, while 21% still practice open defecation.

“At household levels, 74% of the water consumed in the state is contaminated with e-coli from the source, according to the Water Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) survey for 2021,” it said

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The State Of Primary Healthcare Centers In Taraba State, Nigeria  

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By Thomas Samuel

Primary healthcare centers are the backbone of essential healthcare services for the masses in Nigeria, especially in Taraba State. 

The state, located in the North-east region has 16 local government areas, many of which have rural communities facing significant healthcare delivery challenges.

In recent years, primary healthcare centers in Taraba State have faced a myriad of issues. They suffer from poor infrastructure, inadequate staffing, and critical shortages of essential drugs and funds. 

A recent investigation has highlighted the dire situation in many local government areas. Primary healthcare centers are failing to meet expectations due to dilapidated structures, lack of resources, and staffing shortages.

Local government areas such as Ardo-Kola, Bali, Donga, and Yorro struggle to provide comprehensive healthcare services due to the absence of qualified doctors, inadequate pharmacy facilities, and the failure of the state government to renovate and equip these centers with essential medical facilities.

The absence of doctors and essential medical supplies leads to alarming consequences, including a high child mortality rate in the State, which stood at 70 deaths per 1000 live births in 2018. 

This statistic underscores the urgent need for intervention to address the healthcare challenges faced by communities across the state.

Although the state government has made efforts, such as deploying community health extension workers and providing practical training for students, they have fallen short of addressing the root causes of the healthcare crisis. 

Primary healthcare centers continue to struggle, resulting in preventable deaths and exacerbating the plight of vulnerable communities.

The challenges facing primary healthcare centers in Taraba State extend to all 16 local government areas in the state. Issues such as lack of electricity, absence of clean water sources, and critical shortages of functional healthcare facilities further compound the situation. 

This identifies Taraba among states facing a critical shortage of well-equipped healthcare facilities.

Though successive administrations have made efforts to improve the quality of primary healthcare services, sustaining these interventions has proven challenging. 

For example, while Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku’s administration made strides in equipping primary healthcare centers, these efforts waned after the initial intervention period. 

The present administration under Governor Kefas Agbu has shown commitment to revitalizing healthcare centers, but significant efforts are required for effective implementation.

Adequate funding, manpower, and security are paramount to safeguarding lives and ensuring the effective operation of primary healthcare centers.

However, Taraba State grapples with insecurity, with reports of attacks on healthcare centers and workers impeding service delivery.

To address these challenges and improve healthcare service delivery in the State and Nigeria as a whole, there must be a concerted effort to prioritize funding and implement necessary interventions. 

This includes ensuring adequate manpower, infrastructure, and security measures to safeguard healthcare facilities and personnel. 

Only through sustained investment and commitment can the goal of providing quality healthcare services to all citizens be achieved.

In conclusion, stakeholders at all levels must prioritize investment in healthcare infrastructure, allocate adequate resources, and implement sustainable solutions to improve access to quality healthcare services in Taraba State. 

This is imperative for the health and well-being of the populace and the advancement of the state and nation.

Thomas Samuel is an Editor at the Taraba State Broadcasting Service and a Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University UK. Edited By Sani Yarima.

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