Nigeria has come a long way in providing primary healthcare for its citizens. Governments at the three tiers have continued to make progress in this regard. Immunization programmes are organised annually across the country. Nursing and pregnant women are constantly being educated on how to live healthy lifestyles. Governments also work with international development partners to curb the menace of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and polio as well as to reduce maternal and infant mortality across the country. Progress continues to be made in these fronts.
Despite of these successes being recorded, there is, still, a very long way to go in terms of providing adequate healthcare coverage for all citizens, young and old, rich or poor.
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) is the government agency that is responsible for developing national primary health care (PHC) policy. It also guides and support states and local government areas to implement the policies.
Some of the major objectives of the agency include: Improve access to basic health services; to control preventable diseases; improve quality of care; develop a high-performing and empowered health workforce across the country and to strengthen institutions in the healthcare system;. Other key goals of the agency are to strengthen partnerships and engage with communities regularly to get feedback.
Although the agency has been executing these tasks over the years, its current Executive Director, Dr Ado J.G. Muhammad has taken the mission to greater heights. Since his coming on board in 2011, Dr Muhammad has further reorganised the agency for effectiveness and efficiency. This has resulted in significant improvements in its activities, which has in turn led to improvements in how states and local governments tackle key health challenges such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, polio, infant maternal mortality. The result is that more people have become healthier.
But there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure universal primary health care coverage and access to all citizens as the agency’s executive director, Dr Ado J.G Mohammed says the NPHCDA is currently implementing plans to ensure increased private sector participation in the provision of primary healthcare. Private sector participants have hitherto shied away from focusing on primary healthcare. This is because primary healthcare mostly involves low income earners in rural areas. Since private sector healthcare providers are profit oriented, they have little motivation to move into this sub-sector.
Nevertheless NPHCDA, under Dr. Muhammad is currently working with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to address the financial barrier to achieving universal coverage. Once this is addressed, the NPHCDA plans to lead states and local governments towards the new direction of getting coverage for the country’s most vulnerable –the poor.
Speaking during an interview last year on Channels television, Dr. Muhammad noted that the NPHCDA was working towards enrolling millions of school children. This will allow them access to basic health services which had hitherto eluded them. The figures would continue to be increased on a year by year basis until the last child in school gets adequate primary healthcare coverage.
It is important to note that one of the factors responsible for the current strides being made by NPHCDA is the new approach of using results-based budgeting. This helps the agency achieve allocative efficiency. This means that available funds are directed more to the health issues that are more pressing at any point in time. These little but highly creative tweaks in the approach at the agency have helped propel the NPHCDA to greater successes in the past three to four years.
Dr. Muhammad is not new to awards. In 2013, he emerged as winner of the Public Administrator of the Year Award, PAYA, which is organized annually by the Centre for Policy Development and Political Studies, Lagos.
The NPHCDA CEO was praised for his efforts in “eradication of poliomyelitis; reduction in maternal and infant mortality; impressive initiatives in addressing human resource challenges in the primary health care sub-sector; integration and decentralisation of HIV/AIDs intervention in PHC services in over 1,500 PHC facilities;…..”
Dr Muhammad wants to break his own records and do even more. In this regard, he said in that Channels TV interview, he is working hard to break the barriers of geography that mitigate against efforts to reach distant villages with primary healthcare.
Dr. Muhammad believes that bringing in the private sector will greatly enhance efforts to reach more people with primary healthcare coverage, especially in rural areas. As he strives to take primary healthcare to greater levels, it is increasingly becoming obvious that indeed, history will be kind to him when he leaves office.
Culled from http://leadership.ng/opinions/445198/nphcda-a-man-was-here