By Philip Yatai
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday urged Kaduna State Government to fast-track the upgrade of functional Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) in 255 political wards in the state.
The Country Representative, UNICEF Nigeria, Mr Peter Hawkins, made the call in Kaduna during an official visit to PHC Mando in Igabi Local Government Area of the state.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the visit was to assess the quality of healthcare services being provided at the facility.
Hawkins described the Mando PHC as “an amazing one-stop healthcare facility that provides integrated services to women and children.”
He noted that the state and local governments were doing much in improving access to quality healthcare services in communities as demonstrated in Mando centre.
The representative said there was need to do more as some women travel about 70 kilometres to the nearest facility for healthcare services.
“I am elated with the quality of services being provided at PHC Mando, where women travel about 70 kilometres to the facility with confidence that they will get antenatal service, immunisation, nutrition and other critical health services.
“This is impressive, but what UNICEF wants is to see this kind of services replicated in every ward in the state for women and children to access healthcare within a short distance.
“This will go a long way in ensuring that women give birth in hospitals, immunise their children, access family planning services, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene and other critical health services.
“The next time I visit, I will go to interior villages, particularly hard-to-reach areas to see the kind of health services being provided to people in such communities.”
The country representative said that UNICEF would continue to provide technical support to Kaduna State Government, saying “we will not sleep until this becomes a reality.
“We will continue to support in ensuring that health facilities in the state have drugs, provide quality antenatal and postnatal care services, immunisation, water, family planning and nutrition services, among others.”
Dr Hamza Abubakar, the Executive Secretary, Kaduna State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, said that the state government would do all it could to ensure functional PHC in every ward in the state.
Abubakar, who was represented by a Deputy Director in the agency, Hamza Ikara, said the 255 PHCs would soon be provided with solar power as part of efforts to provide 24-hour services.
He further said that the government had concluded plan to recruit more than 3,000 health workers between December and April 2020.
The secretary thanked UNICEF and other development partners for the support, which he said had been very fruitful.
The Director, PHC in the local government area, Habila Barem, said that with UNICEF support, the state was providing healthcare services to women and children in 64 health facilities in the area.
On his part, the Ward Development Committee Chairman, Abdullahi Afaka, disclosed that the perimetre fencing of Mando PHC was done through community efforts as part of community participation in the provision of healthcare services.
Afaka, who is also the community Facility Chairman, added that the community provided furniture and other facilities for the smooth running of the facility.