By John Ikani
President Muhammadu Buhari has given his consent to Nigeria’s hosting an International summit on Primary Health Care (PHC).
The summit scheduled to hold in Abuja before the end of October or early November, aligns with the “Next Level Agenda” of Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire on addressing the inadequacy of primary health care services across the country and the need to revitalise one PHC in each ward.
It is a demonstration of prioritizing community-based health care and scaling up the Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Services, (CHIPS) programme launched by President Buhari in 2018 at Lafia, Nasarawa State.
CHIPS is designed to improve access and equitable coverage to essential health services, especially those relating to maternal, new born and child survival. It will also remove barriers to PHC services; ensure supply of integrated PHC interventions by linking the health workforce at health centres in rural and underserved communities to the households; tackling delays in decision to seek care, reaching care and receiving adequate healthcare.
The summit is also an actualisation of the promise made earlier by the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, to prioritise strengthening the PHC system through a robust revitalisation agenda.
Last year, the agency had engaged with heads of community medicine departments of universities to discuss and receive critical feedback on prevailing issues of interest to primary health care development in Nigeria. It also met other critical stakeholders in a bid to strengthen the PHC system and deliver affordable, accessible and equitable services.
The summit is coming at a time when government resources alone have become inadequate to fund the health sector, especially with the global COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of cholera in many states across the country.
It would also rally the support of the Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID – the private sector-led organization assembled by the Central Bank of Nigeria to assist the federal government in combating COVID-19. The coalition of industry giants, banks and several private organisations and individuals raised huge funds to procure essential supplies, equipment while also accelerating tests and treatment for COVID-19.