By Doosuur Iwambe
The Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ), has called on the Executive Secretary National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, to use the next four years to eradicate all vaccine preventable diseases in the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari on October 6, 2020, approved the reappointment of Dr. Shuaib as Executive Director of the NPHCDA for a second and final term of four years.
A statement signed by ANHEJ president, Hassan Zaggi and General Secretary Gloria Essien said the appointment was well deserved, considering the achievements of Dr. Shuaib in the past four years including, eradication of Wild Polio Virus.
According to the group, Dr. Shuaib in the first four years of his tenure had worked assiduously to reverse the country’s poor health indices by strengthening Routine Immunization (RI), PHC revitalization, strengthening governance and accountability.
The statement reads in part: “Monitoring closely the 4-point agenda, ANHEJ discovered that governance and accountability has improved greatly at NPHCDA compared to the way Dr. Shuaib met it; RI has also improved tremendously.
“The introduction of the National Emergency Routine Immunization Coordination Centre (NERICC) to work out modalities of improving RI, indeed, became a turning point in Nigeria’s immunisation coverage.
“As at 2016, before Dr. Shuaib was appointed, the MICS/NICS report showed the national coverage of routine immunisation of only 33%, however, SMART survey in 2018, indicated an improvement to 57% and a further positive rise to 70.8% in 2019.
Polio has become a non-issue in Nigeria and our Primary Health Centres (PHCs) are having a new look. “However, ANHEJ believes there is more to be done for the health sector to get to where we want it to be.
Our expectations on Dr. Shuaib in the next four years are huge- the achievement made in the area of accountability and transparency must be sustained.
“One most important expectation is that, Dr. Shuaib must build on the achievement of his first tenure to attain 100% RI immunization rate in Nigeria.
This is doable. “In the next four years, ANHEJ expects that all child-killer diseases including measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases are totally eradicated.
Nigerian children and mothers will get nothing short of best healthcare services in all PHCs across the country regardless of the location.”
ANHEJ while pledging its support in close monitoring of NPHCDA’s programmes in the next four years, said “we will invoke our investigative skills to ensure that all lapses and areas that need urgent attention are brought to limelight so that actions are taken to address them.”