Community Volunteer Agents Critical To Primary Healthcare Delivery- USAID

By Sunday Etuka, Abuja

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) says community volunteer agents are the backbone of primary healthcare system and should be maintained and improved on.

Dr. Marta Levitt, the USAID Integrated Health Programme (IHP), Chief of Party, said this on Thursday in Abuja at the programme’s Closeout Ceremony for the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).

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According to her, having health workers go house to house to sensitise people about health programmes and also deliver health services to them goes a long way in enhancing healthcare delivery at the grassroots.

She said that the programme began in FCT in 2020 with the goal of contributing to territory-level reductions in child and maternal morbidity and mortality.

This, is to increase the capacity of health systems to sustainably support quality Primary Health Care services for Reproductive Health, Family Planning, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, Adolescent Health and Nutrition (RMNCH+N).

Levitt said that at the commencement of IHP FCT in 2020, only 36 per cent of focused 70 PHC facilities offered the full package of RMNCAH+N services, but with IHP’s support, the number of health facilities offering these services rose to 78 per cent in 2023.

“Over the life of the project, IHP FCT-supported health facilities increased access to quality healthcare services for 2,644,352 individuals.

“Including an estimated 581,757 women of reproductive age, and 528,870 children under five years of age across all 62 wards and six Area Councils of the FCT.

“In FCT, use of modern family planning resulted in 231,107 Couple-Years of Protection. More than 104,903 unintended pregnancies, 533 maternal deaths, and 2,615 child deaths were averted mainly due to the increased use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC).”

She, however, said that even though FCT’s health indicators were amongst the best in the country, the city still has a long way to go and with collaboration from all stakeholders it could achieve more.

The four-year programme which covers the FCT under the IHP indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract has a 21 million dollars budget and would be completed on June 30, she added.

The Minister of State for FCT, Dr Mariya Mahmoud, said the programme has contributed greatly in improving the health and the well-being of the people of the FCT as evidenced by improvement in the FCT basic Health indices.

Represented by the Senior Special Assistant on Admin and Strategy, Mr Abdullahi Kauramatu, said tremendous successes were achieved in the area of maternal and child health, nutrition, capacity building of the healthcare workers among others.

“The 160 healthcare facilities which included 92 PHCs, 12 general hospitals, and 56 private health centres are currently operating maximally and providing essential health services to the good people of the FCT.

“It is therefore, penitent to at this juncture, to appreciate and commend USAID for this kind gesture done to our people.

She implored the organisation to extend IHP in the FCT to additional years or come up with alternative partnership opportunities with it.

Mahmoud, however, assured that on the administration’s part, it would continue to provide enabling environment for all development partners to go into fruitful partnerships that would impact the health of the people positively.

The Mandate Secretary, Health Services and Environment Secretariat (HSES), Dr Adedolapo Fasawe, said that in the past, the territory had about 128,000 people registered on its health insurance scheme.

“I came on board and I asked for the population of the city which is close to six million and I thought no, we do not have coverage.

“With support of IHP and different programmes, education, advocacy and sensitisation, especially focusing on women of childbearing age and pregnant women, I am happy to announce that between Septembers and now we have registered over 35,000 new enrollees.”

She, however, commended the efforts of USAID and all supporting partners towards improving healthcare delivery in the FCT, adding that the administration would continue to work towards enhanced healthcare delivery.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that IHP interventions has presence in Ebonyi, Bauchi, Kebbi, Sokoto states and the FCT and supports health policies and systems at the federal level.


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