Health professionals, others parley, chart fresh course
By Akinsola Omidire
Ogun State Primary Health Care Development Board (OGPHECADEB) recently gathered health workers, doctors, nurses, journalists and other stakeholders together in Abeokuta, the state capital. The event was on how to increase the utilisation of immunisation in the primary health care sector, using the Ipara and Ilara wards in Remo North East Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of the state as case studies.
The board said the programme was held with technical support from the Royal Tropical Institute, The Netherlands, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The two-day event, tagged: ‘Policy dialogue workshop on increasing the utilisation of immunisation in Ogun State, using participating evaluation and action research’ was held in the state capital, Abeokuta. According to the organisers, it was carried out in line with the Federal Government directive that states should take charge of primary health care in their domain, as explained recently by the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole.
In her presentation, lead doctor\technical support officer, Royal Tropical Institute, The Netherlands, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Akwataghibe, affirmed that the research was conducted in Ipara, the best ward in Remo North, and Ilara, the worst ward in the area. She said situational analysis was also carried out, informing that the results were validated by the community members, health workers and local government officials and used in an interactive learning process through dialogues between the groups facilitated by researchers.
According to her, the first phase took four months with the assistance from the Joint Action Plan (JAPs) while the circle was repeated in a second round with baseline and end-line studies using mixed methods like household survey (HHS), secondary analysis of the national health management information systems (NHMIS) data, qualitative in-depth interviews of key stakeholders including policy makers, local government officials, community leaders, health workers and PAR participants.
She concluded that routine immunisation and, by extension, health services in the primary health care system could be made robust by engaging the community members, not only at the planning stage of activities, but by ensuring that they are an integral part of the running of health programmes.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Nofiu Aigoro asserted that the result of the research would not be kept in the cupboard but looked into and recommended to the state government as a policy statement that would be implemented in the state.
Aigoro said: “My take-home from the discussion is that community participation is essential in primary health care while policies formulated at the grassroots level should be advocated for implementation at the federal level. Besides this is a government-led research and we cannot afford to toy with it. We need to implement it to the letter. Though it is cost effective, we would try to seek government support for it to be included in the next budget.”
Chairman, Ipara Community Development Association, Alhaji A.I. Salami, reiterated that the research had brought a lot of renovation to moribund structures and equipment within the neighbourhood and understanding between indigenes and non-indigenes on the need for primary health care.
On his part, Chairman Ilara Community Development Association, Apostle Solomon Oyebanjo, said the programme had improved facilities and created healthy living awareness in the ward. He remarked that seven births have taken place in the community’s primary health care centre, describing it as a landmark.
Chairman, Remo North East Local Council Development Area, Segun Idowu, while commending the state’s health ministry, research team, health workers and stakeholders of the industry for a job well done, noted that “it was an eye opener for us, and a pointer to other great things that would begin to happen within the LCDA.”