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In a bid to fast track the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially in health related goals, the federal government yesterday inaugurated the Village Health Workers Scheme (VHWS).
Speaking during the inauguration at the state house in Abuja, the First Lady Patience Jonathan disclosed that the scheme, which has created jobs for young school leavers would see a total of 1480 village workers deployed to communities in about 148 local government areas across the country to support the health officers in the various communities.
She further said the VHW will encourage people living in the rural communities make use of the health facilities provided by the government.
Dame patience further added that there has been lot of progress in the health goals which she said shows the transformation agenda of the president is giving priority to the health of its citizens.
“The launch of the scheme is part of the president’s desire to give health to its citizens and also create jobs,” she said.
While urging politicians not to play politics with the health of the citizens that voted them in, she asked both states and local government to do their part as achieving the MDGs was a collective task.
Explaining more on the scheme, the Senior Special Assistant to the president on MDGs, Dr. Precious Gbeneol, said the village health workers scheme was established to serve as a link between community and health services, to provide increased utilisation of health care facilities provided by OSSAP-MDGs and other stakeholders, amongst others.
“The scheme is expected to make the required impact of contributing to improved community health outcomes by: increasing the uptake and utilisation of health care facilities provided by OSSAP-MDGs and other stakeholders; increasing mobilisation drives that stimulate the demand side of health services delivery for enhanced ownership, responsiveness, sustainability and accountability; contributing to the functionality and sustainability of health care facilities through close collaboration with other stakeholder groups.
The Village Health Workers will assist health facilities to initiate and manage health promotion and awareness creation activities. They are also expected to be vanguards of advocacy campaigns, mobilisation of individuals, households and communities, provide data management and baseline inventory of households on health related issues amongst other services.
“The Village Health Workers Scheme will also generate employment for many Nigerians. At the moment, more than One thousand, four hundred (1,400) Village Health Workers have been trained across the six geo-political zones of the federation,” Gbeneol stated.
The scheme, which runs across 148 local government areas, was expected to run for two years.