The Federal Government says measures have been put in place to make Primary Health Care Centres in rural areas attractive for health workers.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said this in Abuja on Thursday during the World Health Day, as the World Health Organization (WHO) turns 75.
The theme of the 2023 World Health Day is ”Health for All –Strengthening PHC to Build Resilient Systems”, while the theme of the World Health Workers Week is “Investing in the Health Work Force”.
Ehanire said that health workers preferred to practice in cities, thereby depleting manpower in healthcare facilities in rural areas.
He added that ”government is trying to make rural PHCs more attractive, as plans have
been put in place to build staff quarters to address accommodation problems.
”The lack of staff quarters has been a problem because health workers don’t have a place to stay when sent to rural areas.
”We will ensure provision of water, electricity or solar energy to have light in the centres for better performance to encourage health worker to stay in the rural areas.
“We are also making provision for ambulances that will make transportation easy for patients and health workers.”
According to him, another incentive from government is to focus on particular caregivers of health workers that are specialised in a particular area.
Ehanire added that the Federal Government had urged state and local governments to establish schools of health technology where rural health workers would be trained.
He explained that the workers could be trained in local languages to enable them to easily communicate with the rural citizens.
According to him, government also encourages the state and local governments to nominate health workers from their communities to be trained for better understanding and improved communication.
The minister said government was planning to make use of digital technology to make communication easier for medical personnel and patients to enhance better outcome.
“We hope that all our measures will encourage the state and local governments to prioritise employment and payment of rural health workers, especially the PHC workers.
“This is because PHCs are under the payroll of state and local governments.”
He said that the Federal Government, in a bid to reverse poor health indices and provide Universal Health Coverage, initiated the revitalisation of about 10,000 PHCs nationwide, adding that more than 4,000 PHCs have so far been worked to ensure quality services.
Steps taken have improved PHC services in the country and reduced challenges women face in childbirth and addressed home emergencies.
According to him, immunisation has recorded significant improvement from 33 per cent in 2016 to 57 per cent in 2021 in spite of COVID-19 pandemic distractions.
He said that the 2022/23 Supplemental Immunisation Activities (SIAs) were integrated into other PHC services under the motto: “One Country, One Team, One Plan, One Budget.”
Dr Walter Mulombo, WHO Country Representative to Nigeria, said that WHO Nigeria in collaboration with the government had been achieving notable strides in keeping the people safe and serving vulnerable population.
Mulombo listed areas of achievement to include combatting infectious disease, HIV treatment, reducing maternal mortality, increase in life expectancy, and supporting disease eradication.
He said that “in 1948, countries around the world came together and founded WHO to
promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable so everyone, everywhere can attain the highest level of health and well-being.”
He said that currently, the organisation was supporting Nigeria to interrupt circulating vaccine derived polio virus type 2) cVDPV2 outbreak.
He added that in 2022, there was 84 per cent reduction in cVDPV2 registered compared with
“In recent times, WHO supported Nigeria in the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic. As at April 3, 2023, 71.1 per cent of eligible population have been vaccinated with at least one dose.
Mulombo said that the organisation had been supporting government across all levels to build the capacity of health workers to improve health resources and services provided in the country.
He said WHO had continued to support the protracted humanitarian crisis in the northeast region of Nigeria since 2016.
“As we look forward to building a stronger WHO that delivers results and is enabled and empowered to play its leading role in global health, let me assure that WHO will continue to support Nigeria to promote health, provide health, protect health, power health and
perform for health,’’ Mulombo said.