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Experts in public and community health have said the present state of insecurity in North-eastern part of the country constitutes a major challenge to the implementation and monitoring of public and community healthcare intervention programmes.
The experts said the insecurity occasioned by the insurgency of Boko Haram had stopped the programmes aimed at protecting mothers and infants who are exposed to health problems everyday in the region.
Speaking yesterday in Lagos at the unveiling of an online exchange platform, the Nigeria Springboard for health communication, the Project Director of the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative, Dr Mojisola Odeku, and the Programme Officer, the Centre for Communication Programmes Nigeria (CCPN), Mr Yemi Abodurin, said government needs to step up efforts to protect people living in high prone crisis areas in the North-east to ensure that healthcare intervention programmes are not thwarted.
Odeku said the rising insurgency in the North-east was forcing many Nigerians to migrate to Abuja, thereby over stretching the available public and community healthcare facilities in the capital city.
She said if security measures were not put in place to guarantee the safety of healthcare officials and facilitators, the increasing migration rate into Abuja would become a major challenge for government.
She canvassed for the establishment of more public and community health care centres and outreach in satellite towns around Abuja to cater for the rising number of migrants.
She said if crowd control and community engagement programmes are not put in place, the implementation of intervention programmes by donor organisations bordering on women and child health would be threatened.
She said adequate monitoring of intervention programmes as well as design of healthcare programmes could only be carried out in a secured atmosphere.
Odeku said in the past few years, efforts by demographers in the public and community healthcare to gauge the progress of interventionist programmes had been hampered by insecurity in some states in the North-east on account of the activities of insurgents.
She said government should step up efforts to improve security in the affected states so that the beneficiaries of public and community healthcare programmes are not isolated in key programmes on infant and maternal mortality.
Also speaking, the regional community manager, sub- Saharan Africa, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Dr Babatunde Fakunle, canvassed the involvement of private sector players in the provision of public and community healthcare programmes and projects, stressing that organisations should put people first before profit.
Fakunle said though the provision of primary healthcare was the responsibility of government, but private companies had to intervene to tackle gaps in the matters of health care for Nigerians.
He said there are opportunities for private companies to intervene in the health care system by pioneering health insurance schemes, which would reduce the cost of public and community healthcare in operating environment.
He said: “This is why we are developing a model for community health insurance in focal communities."