By Emmanuel Y. Kwache
I was amazed when I heard recently that some members of the Medical Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), mostly those who work with Adamawa State Primary Health Care Development Agency, picketed the agency from 10-11 February. Since the creation of the Agency in 2011 through a bill passed by the Adamawa State House of Assembly and signed into law by former Governor Murtala Nyako, this development agency has never failed to pay its workers their salaries.
The best thing that ever happened to Adamawa State is the creation of the Adamawa State Primary Health Care Agency. The health care development agency unified the former agencies that were partly supervised by the Adamawa State Ministry of Health, and another part under the supervision of Adamawa state Ministry of Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs.
The third was under the supervision of the various local government authorities. With the coming of Dr. Abdullahi Dauda Belel, a professional physician who has been on the ground in many fields, he collated and merged all these under one roof in the various local government authorities. In Michika, before Boko Haram struck, the office complex built and furnished was like a local government secretariat.
This same type of edifice has been raised in Guyuk and in some other Local Governments. The Cottage Hospital in Guyuk has been an experimental zone where workshops and enlightment campaigns on maternal health care are done through physical demonstration, of cleanliness, nutrition and breastfeeding.
During the Fintiri brief administration, motorcycles to cover difficult areas were distributed. Vehicles were procured and distributed. Vaccines were purchased and given to the twenty-one local government councils. A new headquarters and a complex was built at Kofare layout, with three different administrative and maintenance blocks.
Former Governor Bala Ngillari had the honour to commission the main block that houses all Directors, a conference hall and a parking lot.
Dr. Abdullahi Dauda Belel so attracted the attention of Federal Ministry of Health, National Planning Commission and Federal Ministry of Finance that other states were instructed to follow the steps of Adamawa State Primary Health Care Development Agency. These are not the only ministries and authorities that were attracted to the Adamawa State Primary Health Care Development Agency. Others that participated and got involved in counterpart funding are National Bureau of Statistics, United States Agency for International Development, (USAID) from the American people, International Rescue Committee, Pact, United Nations for Development Programme, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance, World Health Organization, United Nations Food Programme Agency, Department for International Development (DFID) – these agencies and international organisations were attracted by the hard work of the Executive Chairman Dr. Abdullahi Dauda Belel who was a consultant with a foreign country in the Jos University Teaching Hospital for some time. He was also in Ahmadu Bello University for his subsequent degree, after he had his MBBS in the University of Maiduguri.
He absorbed all other categories of auxiliary staff nurses and midwives to take care of outlets and outpost dispensaries and clinics that have grown in large number over the years. Because of lack of proper training, some were given a second training to put them in good shape for the job at hand.
He brought experts who know how to go about educating and routing diseases out of the state like Dr. Martin Bimba, permanent member one, a seasoned medical doctor, who was the Principal Medical Officer in-charge of Government House for nearly a decade, a former Chairman, Adamawa Health Services Management Board, Dr. Barminas A. Gayus, Director, Planning Research and Statistics, Dr. Barem Dilli Bwalki, Director, Disease Control and Hajiya Hauwa Musa, Director, Community Health Services, Sarauniya Bajama.
Dr. Abdullahi Dauda Belel led the battle against all preventable diseases. The agency ensured all children were vaccinated against preventable diseases like tuberculosis, whooping cough, poliomyelitis, tetanus and measles. Others like malaria fever, Dengue and yellow fever were marked out for curbing. In the run up to the declaration of Nigeria, polio – free, Adamawa state was one of states that came in the forefront. Even when Ebola Virus surfaced, a separate place was created for them inside the Specialist Hospital, in case there was emergency, which never occurred. But Dr. Abdullahi Dauda Belel was prepared, where he granted interviews here and there explaining how to escape infection.
Just as Lassa fever is being contained in Ogun, Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Bauchi and Taraba states, Adamawa State Primary Health Care Development Agency has stepped up efforts campaigning vigorously on the need for a clean environment that will do away with rats and rodents and ensure good hygiene.
Some weeks ago, the First Lady of Adamawa State, Hajiya Maryam Mohammadu Umaru Jibrilla flagged off 2016 maternal newborn and child health week campaign as part of efforts toward reducing the rate of maternal mortality and malnutrition among children, from zero to five years.
Speaking during the event held at Nana Asma’u Clinic in Yola South Local Government Area, Hajiya Jibrilla told the gathering that the programme was aimed at scaling up delivery of other routine immunisation as well as other child survival interventions. According to her, the campaign would go a long way in providing an opportunity for the provision of interventions which include vitamin A, deworming tablets, routine immunization, key household practice, birth registration and mid upper circumference screening. She also said that pregnant women would get antenatal care and HIV counseling and testing, iron foliate, malaria suppression tablets, tetanus toxoid and long lasting insecticide mosquito nets in some selected health care facilities in the state. She encouraged parents and care givers to see the need to partake in the exercise. According to her, the vaccines are safe, effective and free and have the capacity to protect children from childhood killer diseases.
It is discouraging that someone could incite and instigate the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) to picket the authority of Adamawa State Primary Care Development Agency because some patriotic citizens who have been rendering selfless service missed one step. Secondly, who does not know about the economic downturn in the country today?
Dr. Abdullahi Dauda Belel is a product of humility, outstanding patriotism and selflessness. Because of his hard work, he has been made a board member Nigerian Primary Health Care Development Authority (NPHCDA). No sensible chief executive elevates a weakling. No one disbands a winning team, from poliomyelitis to Lassa fever, all through.
Unions, whether Medical Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) or any other labour organization should know when to picket, demonstrate and raise placards. There are times when understanding of situation on the ground counts. This is not the way to pay back those who serve us diligently and selflessly.
•Emmanuel writes via Kwache [email protected]