Sokoto State government says it has achieved a significant increase in the number of health facilities that offer routine immunisation against polio in the last one year from 553 to 597.
Equally, the state government revealed through the Commissioner for Health, Dr Ali Inname, that it had within one year released N400m as its counterpart funding of the programme on immunisation in which it partners the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Dangote Foundation (DF), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
According to Muhammad Bello, Special Adviser Media and Publicity to the Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the governor made these known while enumerating other achievements recorded by his administration at the end of the year (2019) Routine Immunisation Memorandum of Understanding (RIMoU) meeting held at Government House, Sokoto, “the reduction in the number of circulating vaccine derived polio virus (cVDPV) identified in 2019 is a pointer to improvements in our routine immunisation programme and the quality of the outbreak response campaigns.”
Listing other achievements by the state government as consistent monthly meetings on polio eradication, immunisation of 55 per cent sampled children and conduct of State Data Quality Assessment in 23 local government areas, the governor assured that the state’s “health team will continue to work to intensify strategies to eradicate the occurrence of cVDPV in the coming months.”
He noted the observations by various partners in the meeting, including BMGF, DF, USAID and the UNICEF, and assured that “necessary adjustments” and improvements would be made to address the gaps.
In his remarks via Skype, the Chairman of the BMGF, Mr Bill Gates, urged the state government to follow up on local government counterpart funding and ensure that the transition from Routine Immunisation Memorandum of Understanding (RIMoU) to Primary Healthcare Memorandum of Understanding (PHC MoU), should surmount all difficulties earlier experienced.
Also speaking via Skype, Mr Gates, who was represented at the meeting by Mr Chris Elias, called on the state government to address human resources challenges, just as he advised the state Ministry of Health to evolve a multi-strategy to address problems identified during the meeting.
The Chairman of the Dangote Foundation, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who also featured at the meeting via Skype, while commending the state government for its efforts to engage traditional rulers and other stakeholders in the campaign against polio, noted that there were some problems mitigating against the health tracking system and encouraged the state government to meet all demands.
Dangote also recommended that the government should expand its financial monitoring framework, implement sanction on defaulters of the contributory health scheme, ensure the release of additional resources and evolve a mechanism to coordinate the efforts of all stakeholders.
On its part, the USAID noted that it was already upscaling its activities in the state and would “like to see an expansion of these, as a result of its “long history of working together” with the state.
USAID Mission Director, Stephen Hawkins, said the agency is looking forward to working with the state legislators and other stakeholders as it continues to further its commitment on awareness regarding behavioural change.
Peter Hawkins, the country representative of the UNICEF, who also spoke via Skype from Lagos, assured that the fund is working to improve the polio eradication system in the state through strengthening community engagement strategy which “in the moment isn’t working properly.”
He urged the state government to improve its healthcare system and improve nutrition status in some local government areas.
Reviewing the programme in the state, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Ali Inname, noted that there had been disparity between the data transmitted by the state government and that of the Federal Government on the programme.
Inname while observing that the state scored high on the scorecard of the assessed parameters, pointed out that the “human resources for health has deficit of staff to man the programme.”
He, however, assured that with the undertaking of staff audit the ministry did to ascertain gaps that needed to be filled, this could be addressed, especially as the state’s PHC budget is 27 per cent of the total health budget.
The commissioner gave an update on the occurrence of polio in the state, saying there was only one case in the period under review, to which “there was a swift reaction to the local government and contingent areas.”
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Saad Abubakar, who was represented by Alhaji Bello Abubakar, Ubandoman Gari, assured the state and its partners on the programme, of the Sultanate’s full support in the attainment of its objectives.
Other contributors to the meeting were the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, and Dr Faisal Shuaibu, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).