By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
Immunization coverage in Kebbi State has increased up to 84 o’er cent as at May/June 2019 from it’s 18 per cent in 2018 according to the Executive Secretary, Kebbi State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Abubakar Kaoje.
Kaoje who told journalists in Birnin Kebbi on Wednesday that the achievement was recorded under European Union, Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Nutrition (EU-MNCHN) project being implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), thanked the agencies for their support.
He described Kebbi as one of the states with disturbing primary healthcare indices in the country, stressing that routine immunisation coverage was barely 18 per cent in 2018.
The executive secretary added that skilled-birth attendants were 17 per cent in 2017, along with very disturbing nutrition indices among children under five years.
According to him, “thanks to UNICEF and EU-MNCHN project, the state is beginning to record some very impressive improvement in maternal, newborn, child health and nutrition.
“Just last year we were the last in immunisation coverage in the country but today, with 84 per cent coverage, we are among the best five states.
“Also, through the project, we have been able to reach out to 1,050 out of the over 2,000 hard-to-reach communities, who are five kilometres away from the nearest health centre.
“We are reaching them through an outreach programme that delivers integrated healthcare services, including child protection, nutrition and immunisation to their doorstep.
“Similarly, we have introduced Emergency Healthcare Scheme in collaboration with the National Union of Road Transport Workers to transport pregnant women and children in need of emergency health services to the hospitals.
“There is equally the Integrated Community Case Management initiative where community-based volunteers provide treatment for malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea and other child killer disease to children under five years.”
Kaoje also said that capacity building training, including clinical mentorship are being carried out under the project to build the capacity of healthcare workers to deliver quality primary healthcare services.
He further said that the project equally supported the recruitment of 106 nurses and Community Health Extension Workers to bridge manpower gap.
He added that the health workers were deployed to the four most populous local government areas of the state with highest burden of negative health indices, namely Argungu, Fakai, Jega and Birnin Kebbi.
“These among other initiatives have improved antenatal care attendance, access to quality nutrition and other healthcare services.
“This remarkable improvement will in no distant time reverse the negative health indices in the state,” he added.
Dr. Kaoje, explained that the EU-MNCHN was a four-year project that began in 2016 with the main goal of improving access to quality primary healthcare services by women and children in the state.
He therefore appealed to UNICEF and EU to extend the project for another four years, saying, “I do not know what we will do if this project wind you.
“Our health problems are enormous, and as a state, we cannot do it alone. We need all the support we can get.”