Revitalising PHCs For Essential Health Services

Revitalising PHCs For Essential Health Services

Primary health care is essential. It is the first level of contact at the community level with the health facilities.

The PHC is the entry point into the health care service delivery system where 80 percent of the health issues should be sorted out and essential with basic care needs provided.

As a gateway to accessing health services, the PHC should be designed to fit the purpose for proper functioning and operations to be prepared for the needs of the community where it is located. it should be a hub of positive interaction that gives hope and relieves anxieties and distress to whoever is there whether as a caregiver or client/patient, said the special Adviser to the President on health, Dr. Salma Ibrahim Anas

She said “It should be community-owned and led for optimal utilisation and sustainability of the PHC system along with the aspirations and potentials of the people and their developmental growth needs.
The PHC should be linked to a secondary care facility for ease of referrals of cases requiring more expert attention.“

She said the PHC is the fulcrum for a resilient health system and should be structured to be able to deliver services that will support the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and guarantee health security.

The PHC is the entry point into the health care service delivery system where 80 percent of the health issues should be sorted out and essential with basic care needs provided.
However, a recent report revealed that about 80 percent of the over 34,000 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in Nigeria are not functional.

According to the report, most of the PHCs lack the capacity to provide essential healthcare services,
Meanwhile, the coordinating minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Mohammed Ali Pate, has said that N260billion was currently available at the state level for the revitalisation of PHCs across the country.

The minister disclosed this in his presentation tagged: Achievements in the Health Sector, at the Ministerial Sectoral Briefing, to mark President Bola Tinubu one year in office, recently in Abuja.
He said this will be done through the IDA financing and the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), adding that the federal government is now providing guidelines to assist the states in the implementation of the revitalisation projects, ensuring that the resources are used prudently for their intended purposes.

Regarding the revitalisation of PHCs, which aligns with the President’s directive, I am pleased to report that N260 billion is already currently available at the state level for this purpose through IDA financing and the BHCPF.

We outlined a plan to revive 8300 PHCs across the nation to make them fully functional and to expand and upgrade to 17,000 PHCs over the next three years.

The expansion is to refurbish these centers, equip them, making them fully functional to deliver essential services such as immunisation, reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health services, treatment of non-communicable diseases, and to facilitate referrals to secondary facilities.“

The minister, however, tasked the state governments on complementing the efforts of the federal government towards achieving the ambitious plan.
We reviewed audits on the previous utilisation of such financial resources and identified major gaps in several states. These issues were addressed through the National Economic Council and the Governors’ Forum.

Our state governors have been instrumental in aligning with the President’s vision for increasing investments in the health sector. The transparency of disbursing the Primary Health Care Provision (BHCPF) funds was enhanced by conducting it publicly and establishing a hotline for Nigerians to report any misuse of resources.

Oversight bodies such as the ICPC and EFCC are also encouraged to monitor to ensure that the implementation at the state level aligns with the intended objectives, particularly in terms of infrastructure and equipment and that the resources not misused,“ he explained.

Pate further stated that the federal government plans to equip frontline heath workers in the rural communities with the necessary skills required for effective service delivery.

In September, we announced the commitment to retrain 120,000 frontline health workers. We have reviewed and updated the training guidelines and curriculum for these frontline health workers. The revised guidelines have been printed, and the resources for training have been secured. The trainers have been trained in almost all States.

„Within the next one or two weeks, the training itself will commence across all states of the federation. Over the next three years, at least 120,000 frontline health workers serving rural populations will be equipped with the necessary skills, supported by the infrastructure and equipment we will provide.

„More than 2,400 health workers, including nurses, doctors, and midwives, have been recruited to provide services to Nigerians, many of whom are women in rural areas delivering essential services.

He also said that at least 1,400 PHCs are now equipped to provide skilled birth attendance, funded through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the National Health Insurance Agency (NHIA), covering the 8,300 facilities.

On health workforce, the minister said the federal government has doubled the intake capacity of the educational institutions, saying that enrollment quotas for medical schools, nursing schools, and other health professional training institutions have increased significantly from 28,000 to 64,000 annually.

This, he said was necessary given the shortage of health workforce. „We have also approved a managed migration policy for health and are looking at how best to address the excessive workload of medical providers, especially the medical doctors,“ Pate said.


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