Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Friday, inaugurated the South-East Traditional Leaders’ Committee on Primary HealthCare Delivery with a charge on traditional rulers to redouble their efforts on Primary Health Care (PHC) services and penetration of COVID-19 vaccination in South-East.
Ehanire made the appeal while inaugurating the Committee in Enugu.
The inauguration was part of a two-day programme for traditional rulers of South-East, was organised by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and Enugu State Primary Health Care Development Agency (ENS-PHCDA).
The minister noted that in order to push PHC services and COVID-19 vaccination forward, there was a need to mobilise traditional rulers, who are very influential in each community, to achieve the desired objective.
He said, “we are going to rely on their powers of advocacy and the respect they command among our people to push PHC services, which included the COVID-19 vaccination, to the next and desirable level.
“With the inauguration today, we are making them more relevant to issues of PHC services and they should also have royal input and oversight to ensure that PHC centres under them in communities function optimally.
“We are targeting a huge change, growth and patronage to PHC services and COVID-19 vaccination; and we must achieve all these by active and effective collaboration with our respected and influential traditional rulers.”
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State said that as gatekeepers of the communities, it was necessary to get them more involved in advocacy and ensuring that the PHC services are timely delivered to the people.
Ugwuanyi, who was represented by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Ikechukwu Obi, said: “With the traditional rulers coming on board, we will soon achieve and even surpass our targets in various PHC services”.
The governor said that the government over the years had strived in repositioning PHC services and structures; thus, making the people to easily and affordably access PHC services at each ward in the state.
The Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said that with the inauguration, the traditional rulers had been directly connected to the PHCs, adding that “there is no greater collaboration than working and going through traditional rulers to reach the communities.
“The people in the communities and localities listen more to them and the Agency sincerely believes that the PHC services target will be better and faster realised through them,” Shuaib said.
He commended the giant strides of Enugu State, through the support of Ugwuanyi, to PHC services and programmes, adding that the state had continued to witness “sustained and improved” PHC services and ranking for some years now.
“The reward for good work is more work. I want the state and indeed the entire South-East to do more in advocating for increased COVID-19 vaccination and other PHC services,” the executive director said.
The Chairman of the SETLC Committee, Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, said that the traditional rulers had been part of the PHC before now, but “with this inauguration, we will personally ensure that all PHC services run successfully in our various communities”.
Agubuzu, who is also the Chairman of Traditional Rulers’ Council in Enugu State, said: “We are going to redouble our efforts by putting PHC services and COVID-19 vaccination advocacy at the front burner in our various communities.
“The traditional rulers in the South-East will also ensure that the PHC centres run optimally to the greater benefit of our subjects in our communities.
“We are going to use town criers, community meetings/gatherings and even our cabinet meetings to discuss PHC services and ensure that everyone, including our children, in our communities is healthy and sound.”
Obi of Onitsha, the chairman of the occasion and chairman, Anambra State Traditional Council, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Alfred Achebe, lauded the inauguration of the committee.
He said that “the first achievement one should get in life is primary healthcare. Good health practices at the lower level will help us a lot”, Igwe Achebe said.
The Executive Secretary of ENS-PHCDA, Dr George Ugwu, noted that the inauguration was a celebration of excellent PHC services Ugwuanyi had brought to the state through sound PHC policies and massive financial support to PHC services.
Ugwu said that the inauguration would surely deepen PHC services and enlarge its coverage in the South-East as well as the building of more modern Type-3 PHC centres being championed by the Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration.
“This inauguration will attract more attention of government, organisations, philanthropists and even illustrious sons and daughters of communities to invest and pay attention to the PHC centres and its whole range of services.
“We must commend our health-loving Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for this feat as well as continued and sustained personal interest and investment to see PHC services reach the people and reduce the health burden of our people in the state,” he said.