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