Our health fa­cil­i­ties still of­fer­ing ser­vices in spite of in­sur­gency – Borno Com­mis­sioner

Dr. Salma Anas Kolo

Daily Trust - - HEALTH - By Ruby Leo Dr. Salma Anas Kolo

How are the health fa­cil­i­ties cop­ing in these times of in­sur­gen­cies in Borno State at present?

The health sys­tem is still very func­tional as it has al­ways been. We have made a lot of ef­fort and we are still con­tin­u­ing on that ef­fort. All our health fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing the sec­ondary and pri­mary health care fa­cil­i­ties are very func­tional with very ac­tive and sup­port­ive com­mu­nity health care providers. The com­mu­nity sup­ports and ap­pre­ci­ates the work of the health care providers. In terms of ca­su­al­ties and war, the first im­pact is on the lives of the people and it’s the med­i­cal as­pect that comes out.

So the com­mu­nity ap­pre­ci­ates that and we are on top of it. When they come, they get ser­vices. We re­cently in­tro­duced our emer­gency re­sponse ser­vices in the state. We pro­cured about 35 am­bu­lances manned by well­trained health work­ers and they act swiftly in the evac­u­a­tion of vic­tims of ca­su­al­ties and also get­ting them promptly to have ac­cess to med­i­cal treat­ment and sup­port.

What are the chal­lenges in pro­vid­ing health­care ser­vices in this pe­riod?

Of course, there are chal­lenges but these have not im­paired us from de­liv­er­ing ser­vices. We have some few health fa­cil­i­ties, mainly pri­mary health care fa­cil­i­ties out of the over 500 or 400 that we have in the state that have been af­fected. Mainly, what have been af­fected are the fam­ily plan­ning com­modi­ties and also the im­mu­niza­tion com­modi­ties but that is very min­i­mal. It has not de­railed re­ally the progress of the health sec­tor.

The health sec­tor, I can tell you with ev­i­dence that we have made a lot of progress. This year, we have not recorded a

is the Com­mis­sioner for Health for Borno State. In this in­ter­view she speaks on ef­forts by the state to pro­vide health ser­vices de­spite the chal­lenges of emer­gency rule and var­i­ous at­tacks by ter­ror­ists.

sin­gle case of polio and that has shown that ser­vices have con­tin­u­ally been de­liv­ered in Borno. We still con­tinue to deliver the free ma­ter­nal health ser­vices in all the 24 lo­cal govern­ment ar­eas of the state. That is largely be­cause of the sup­port we have gained from our com­mu­nity mem­bers, fam­i­lies, re­li­gious and com­mu­nity lead­ers. So I think the health sec­tor and health work­ers are still putting in their best in Borno State.

De­scribe how you han­dle preg­nant women and trauma pa­tients?

One year ago, Gover­nor Kashim Shet­tima es­tab­lished and launched the free ma­ter­nal health ser­vice in all the 24 lo­cal govern­ment ar­eas. To­day in Borno, to al­le­vi­ate the suf­fer­ings of moth­ers and also en­sure af­ford­abil­ity and ac­ces­si­bil­ity, we pro­vide freel­ife sav­ing drugs in all our 24 lo­cal gov­ern­ments. Women are ac­cess­ing pro­phy­laxis at the mo­ment, in­clud­ing cae­sar­ian sec­tion pack­age.

This is a pro­gramme that is go­ing on very well. We have also in­jected into the sys­tem, new and trained health work­ers. We re­cruited 300 health work­ers, nurses and mid­wives not too long ago to en­sure that preg­nant women are at­tended to by skilled birth at­ten­dants at both lev­els of pri­mary and sec­ondary health care in ad­di­tion to our on­go­ing pro­gramme through the MSS and the SURE-P. This has been very vi­brant and func­tional.

Given the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, how would you rate the faith of the people in the health sys­tem?

I can cat­e­gor­i­cally say that the people of the state have full con­fi­dence in the health sys­tem be­cause the health sys­tem is pro­vid­ing ser­vices and has never stopped pro­vid­ing the nec­es­sary ser­vices for them across board, in­clud­ing preven­tion of in­fec­tions and treat­ment of in­fec­tious dis­eases, even malaria treat­ment. HIV ser­vices has never been dis­rupted. TB treat­ment has never been dis­rupted in­clud­ing all non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases. So they have high con­fi­dence be­cause they have seen in terms of hu­man re­sources, what have been in­jected into the state.

From just 35 doc­tors in 2011, to­day we have about 116 med­i­cal doc­tors. We en­hanced our part­ner­ship with the Univer­sity of Maiduguri Teach­ing Hospi­tal and they pro­vide a lot of ser­vices. All these hap­pen in the midst of the cri­sis. As I said ear­lier, we have also re­cruited 300 nurses and mid­wives. So there are a lot of in­no­va­tions. The com­mu­ni­ties are very ap­pre­cia­tive. We are also look­ing at fu­ture sus­tain­abil­ity. That is why the Borno State gover­nor pays even stipends to stu­dents of Borno in­di­genes that are un­der­go­ing train­ing in the med­i­cal school. They re­ceive N20,000 per month. Those stu­dents that are pur­su­ing train­ing in school of nurs­ing, mid­wifery and health tech­nol­ogy are get­ting al­lowances of about N6,000. This is all to mo­ti­vate them. A lot is go­ing on in the area of qual­ity ser­vices. The state, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties have seen the graphic change and trans­for­ma­tion in the health sec­tor and they are very sup­port­ive.

With the dead­line to polio erad­i­ca­tion, how ready is the state to en­sure that no polio will be recorded be­fore the dead­line?

We are strength­en­ing rou­tine im­mu­niza­tion be­cause the lead­er­ship of the state led by the gover­nor is highly com­mit­ted and that earned him the Bill Gates Award for 2012. Last year, also, Borno State was given an award by the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) in terms of qual­ity per­for­mance. So we have in a way de­cen­tral­ized our in­ter­ven­tions and in­volved com­mu­nity lead­ers, trained health work­ers. We have also done a lot of en­light­en­ment cam­paign. To­day, I can com­fort­ably say that we don’t have mis­con­cep­tions against polio in Borno State. This year, we have not recorded a sin­gle case of polio in Borno. We have in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized rou­tine im­mu­niza­tion as an in­te­gral part of our child sur­vival pack­age. Am glad to men­tion to you that Borno has launched a child sur­vival pack­age, which is free treat­ment for chil­dren un­der five. That has also en­hanced up­take of im­mu­niza­tion ac­tiv­i­ties in all our fa­cil­i­ties and also within our fa­cil­i­ties. So a lot is go­ing on pos­i­tively and that has widely been ac­knowl­edged by our part­ners. I wel­come you all to Borno to ver­ify this in­for­ma­tion.

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