Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, has called on civil servants nationwide to sign up to be champions of immunisation and primary health care.
She spoke as the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) begins sensitisation workshops for groups of workers in public service in hopes of attaining a “critical mass” of Nigerians to champion demand and provision of primary health care.
In comments delivered on her behalf by Ayodele Olayemi, Oyo-Ita said it was necessary to “awaken the consciousness of Nigerians and civil servants to the realities” that besiege primary health care in Nigeria.
Only two in 10 of some 30,000 primary health centres are functional, leaving many covered in weed, without electricity or water and unstaffed, said health minister Isaac Adewole.
“We need to start from within. As mothers, and fathers, have we vaccinated our children?”
Up to 4.6 million are not immunised, and only one in four Nigerians receive full dosage of vaccines needed for immunity to vaccine-preventable childhood diseases.
Adewole cited research indicating $44 return for every dollar invested in immunisation, compared with a $3 return for investment in infrastructure.
“It is far more effective, giving you more dividend than building roads and houses,” he said.
NPHCDA executive director Faisal Shuaib called the sensitisation a better way to get Nigeria’s “engine room” of civil servants involved in primary health care.
“What we are starting is to galvanise individuals that have not been part of the primary health care space,” said Shuaib.
“It has to be replicated in states, local government areas, and communities. Insisting on quality primary health care is not just the responsibility of NPHCDA. It is a collective responsibility. For every health facility in our community, we have a collective responsibility to ensure the healthworkers there provide the services we require.”