OPEN LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY, ENGINEER SEYI MAKINDE ON THE STATE OF COMMUNITY AND PRIMARY HEALTH SCHEME; SPONTANEOUS NEED TO TAKE NECESSARY ACTION
Mr Governor Sir, It is my pleasure to write this letter to you. My joy is neither limited to the content of the letter nor to the means of satisfying my professional conscience. It is rather vested in my utmost trust that you are a listening Governor. It is therefore unsurprising that everybody want to associate with your good style of governance. A rare breed that we can arguably say we have not seen before. It is on this that I implore that you gracefully through the aforementioned perception consider the actualization of this message therein.
First of it Mr Governor is that I will like to point your attention to what the World Health Organisation has defined Universal Health Coverage to be — Universal health coverage (UHC) means that all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship. According to this definition, it is obvious that we cannot achieve a universal health coverage without a sustainable primary health and community health services. The laws of Nigeria has since empowered states government to be in charge of primary and secondary health care and this brings us to the conclusion that the achievement of universal health coverage is to a large extent to be shouldered by states governements.
Let me begin by pointing that The last recruitment of Community Health Extension Workers (CHEW) in Oyo state was in the year 2006. For the past fourteen years, the community health scheme has suffered neglect from the tables of governance. One fact we cannot wave aside is that countless number of staffs retire every year which has in turn brought shortage of staff, lack of skilled health workers, thus hindering the maximum deliveries in the Primary Health Care sector.
At a period like this when the world and our nation is being ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the duty of the community health workers to carry out routine advocacy to stop the wide spread or outbreak of endemic, epidemic and pandemic diseases such as this novel coronavirus, malaria, measles and even Lassa fever. However, our communities have been denied this golden privileges of having health education and health promotion at their very instances. The roles of community health workers cannot be over-emphasized as trained personnel in carrying out advocacy and helping the public adapt to established medical and health guidelines by professionals at the front and top lines.
We constantly are faced with lack of appropriate equipments, Skilled Health Workers and Personal Protective Equipments all limiting the advocacy in our communities.
Mr Governor, The governement should see to ways by which the functionalities of community health services will not be far-fetched. It is important to note that this aspect of the health sector is the closest to the community and it should be critically harnessed to bring a better efficiency of their services. Community Health Workers are expected to create connections between vulnerable populations and the health care system. To serve as the intermediary between the people during trying times like Covid-19 pandemic and the health institutes and organisations combatting it. Another important role of CHWs is that they also educate health care providers and stakeholders about community needs. This is in corroboration of my earlier facts that they are much closer to the community and understand more how the communities can be reached and communicated to. We can also not lag behind their roles in collecting data and relaying information to policymakers to navigate policy change and development, not forgetting that they also Provide informal counseling, health screenings, and referrals and Building capacity to address health issues
Sir, To hasten quick action to the request, I hereby make the following recommendations:
√ Equipping the primary health facilities in the state with necessary labour force and equipments that are needed by the communities and satisfy the WHO definition of standard health care.
√ Monitoring and evaluation of the staffs in health sector. This will ensure that people are performing their task with utmost efficiency.
√ Regular recruitment of young and skilled health workers (CHEW) into the sector to enable innovations and agility.
√ Proper maintenance of the facilities.
√ Employment of more doctors into Local Government PHC facilities.
√ Upgrading Comprehensive Health Centre to the standard suitable enough to cater for the needs of the society.
√ Frequent training of staffs described as On-the-job training.
Distinguished sir, While I do much believe that you are a very elegant and intellectual governor and would have reasoned along this path that I have established, I do sincerely hope that actions follow through. I believe that with a strengthened community health service, our communities will be cleaner, our people will be more aware of their own health, our cultural practices will be more integrated health-wise and our society will be healed.
Thank you for your time, sir.
Ashiwaju Boboye Toheeb Adebowale writes from Eruwa in Ibarapa East Local Government.