By Christiana Onuoha
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has launched a $225 Integrated Health Program (IHP) in collaboration with the Federal Government in order to strengthen Nigeria’s health systems, increase access to an improved quality of Primary Health Care Services across the Country.
The health programme which is expected to run for five years in Bauchi, Kebbi Sokoto and two more states expected to be added soon, would contribute to revitalizing primary health care by helping the state health systems upgrade clinics and employ an integrated model for a full complement of high-quality round-the-clock health services in every ward.
Speaking at the launch with the theme ‘Strengthening Primary Healthcare Services for Nigeria Mothers and Children’ on Tuesday in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. AbdulazizMashi Abdullahi, noted that the IHP has come at a very auspicious time when the Federal Government was implementing the Basic HealthCare Provision Fund (BHCPF) as part of its journey towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
While explaining that the BHCPF was in fulfillment of the provision of the National Health Act for sustainable financing of PHC system and emergency services, he stressed that “under the BHCPF, a PHC Centre in each Political Ward of the 36 States and FCT will be funded directly through the gateways (NPHCDA and NHIS) to take care of the basic health services for every member of the ward covering treatment of Malaria, Respiratory Tract Infections treatment and Diarrheal Diseases Management in Children, Routine Immunization, Antenatal and Childbirth Services for pregnant women, among others.
“It is our expectation that the IHP will leverage on this opportunity and other ongoing interventions for greater synergy in achieving the objectives of the project in the three supported states.
“This is indeed an enabler for the rapid transformation of the Reproductive ,Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health plus Nutrition (RMNCAH+N) situation in the Northwest and Northeast Geo-Political Zones which the States represent,” he said.
USAID , Nigeria Mission Director, Stephen Haykin who disclosed that $225 Million has been earmarked for the five years programme, said IHP would bring quality basic health care closer to the people and support Nigeria towards achieving universal health coverage.
“Providing the population a fighting chance to grow up healthy and reach its potential is critical for Nigeria to build its future on a strong, hardy foundation for generations to come.”
Responding on behalf of the benefitting states, the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu who noted that maternal and child health was a priority within the framework of Universal Health Coverage, said the intervention would give additional impetus to Primary Healthcare Centers, in Sokoto, Kebbi and Bauchi.
Represented by his chief of Staff, Suleiman Argungu, he gave assurances that the benefitting States would do everything possible to promote the collaboration between the Federal Government of Nigeria and USAID.