BY PRUDENCE IJAH, Abuja
The federal government have pledged her commitment to ensure proper utilization of 3 billion dollars funding for the revitalization of Primary Health Centres (PHC) in Nigeria and to ensure improved immunization coverage.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr Faisal Shuaib who made this pledge in Abuja at the opening of a three day retreat on operationalization of the Nigeria Strategy for Immunization and PHC System Strengthening (NSIPSS) said there is a need for a consensus and commitment on the accountability framework for the implementation of NSIPSS amongst government, partners and donors.
Shuaib said “as we build an accountability framework that will drive the work we do for the next two years, let us do what will stand the test of time and transform the health sector, let us ensure we reach more children with immunization and build a strong primary health care in Nigeria
As GAVI has committed 1 billion dollars to immunization over the next ten years while Nigeria will be bringing 2 billion dollars, the question is how can we ensure that the funds are properly utilized? ”
The Managing Director of Global Alliance for Vaccine (GAVI) Hind Othman Khati in her address, said GAVI is partnering again with Nigeria and therefore called for domestic investment in resources, more investment in health and the need to get immunization on the map.
According to Khatti, “Nigeria needs to be able to sustain immunization coverage and ensure that the investment in immunization is fully sustained by the government”.
The representative of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Dr Vio Mitchell stressed the need for partnership as everyone has a role to play in achieving immunization coverage in Nigeria.
Mitchell said that ” there are not enough resources to cater for various issues in the world, so GAVI’s investment of one billion dollars in Nigeria is at the detriment of other countries, hence the need for effective utilization of this resources”.
The World Health Organization representative Fiona Braka who spoke on behalf of all partners reinstated the need to mitigate the impact of vaccine preventable diseases, adding that the two year plan being developed should ensure better health for all Nigerians.
On his part, the Chairman GAVI Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Nigeria Dr Ben Ayene advocated for state ownership of immunization coverage to enusre proper implementation and monitoring.
According to Ayene, “a proper financing and documentation plan is crucial for immunization at the state and local governments, also, physical space should be expanded while immunization should be put on national priority list”.
The Chairman Board of NPHCDA Salihu Aliero said Nigeria’s immunization coverage of 34% very low hence it is imperative to have improved immunization coverage.
Aliero said that ” whatever we are doing at the national level should be replicated in the states, therefore if the state governments invest more in the health sector, and ensure commitment, there will be an improvement in health outcomes”.
The expected outcomes from the retreat are definition of strategic priorities for immunization and PHC system strengthening for the next 2 years, alignment on the key requirements and processes for successful NSIPSS implementation and commitment to a joint accountability framework endorsed by the government, partners and donors.