KATSINA, Nigeria — A pivotal collaboration between international health agencies and the Katsina State Government is underway to combat the relentless surge of COVID-19. The World Health Organization’s Country Director, Dr. Walter Kazadi Molumbo, led a delegation of diverse representatives from global agencies to meet with the Katsina State Government, led by Malam Dikko Umaru Radda. The agenda centered on devising strategies to propel healthcare initiatives, fortify immunization drives, and address the ongoing diphtheria outbreaks.
Gathered at the state government house yesterday, the delegation delved into the pressing issue of reinforcing healthcare, echoing the WHO’s clarion call for unity between international health agencies and the new administration. Such collaboration aims to align investments and resources with the government’s agenda and priorities.
Dr. Molumbo emphasized the urgency to bolster routine immunization, particularly in the wake of the ongoing diphtheria outbreak. He highlighted the outbreak as a clarion call for renewed focus on community immunity, especially among children. Alongside this imperative, Dr. Molumbo underscored the pivotal role of revitalizing primary healthcare beyond the realm of routine immunization.
“Our recent bout with diphtheria has spotlighted vulnerabilities within our community’s health,” Dr. Molumbo stressed. “Breathing new life into routine immunization at the primary healthcare level is paramount to safeguarding our children and the broader population.”
In recognition of the collaborative efforts to combat the outbreak, Dr. Molumbo praised various organizations for their response. However, he acknowledged the enduring challenge posed by vaccine-derived polio even amid progress against the wild polio virus. He held a note of optimism for Katsina’s role in triumphing over these health challenges.
“The synergy between Katsina and its neighboring Zamfara is pivotal in arresting the propagation of these viruses,” Dr. Molumbo emphasized. “Katsina’s endeavors are pivotal in preventing further outbreaks and the transmission of these diseases.”
Dr. Molumbo reiterated the significance of local leaders, traditional rulers, and organizations in combating health crises. He also urged the state government to intensify COVID-19 vaccination drives to broaden protection against the virus.
In a concluding note, Dr. Molumbo expressed gratitude for the collaborative alliance with the Katsina government and its dedication to universal health coverage. He reaffirmed the WHO’s unwavering support in realizing these vital objectives.
Earlier, during the visit, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), shed light on the paramount importance of bolstering primary healthcare. Dr. Shuaib underscored that investing in primary healthcare forms the bedrock for robust communities and economic growth.
“By investing in primary healthcare, we are forging a robust health system that directly benefits the people of Katsina,” Dr. Shuaib stated. “This not only enhances healthcare accessibility at the grassroots but also fuels economic prosperity, productivity, and social stability.”
Addressing the challenges encountered by the state, Dr. Shuaib highlighted the commendable strides under the leadership of Governor Radda. However, he spotlighted the pressing need to bridge gaps in human resources.
Highlighting the demand for synergy and concerted action against vaccine-preventable diseases, Dr. Shuaib emphasized a harmonized approach and well-coordinated strategies for eliminating these threats.
“This challenge transcends Katsina State to touch every corner of our nation. The dearth of human resources at the primary healthcare level remains a formidable barrier, hampering progress in key primary healthcare indicators,” Dr. Shuaib remarked.
Dr. Shuaib further accentuated the pivotal role of proper distribution and the recruitment of additional healthcare professionals, including midwives, nurses, and chief agents.
“While infrastructure is pivotal, it’s not the primary hurdle within the healthcare sector,” Dr. Shuaib highlighted. While acknowledging the value of well-equipped healthcare facilities, he stressed that without a robust workforce, the potential benefits of these setups would be compromised.
The overarching impact of a sturdy primary healthcare system was reiterated by Dr. Shuaib. “Investing in primary healthcare doesn’t just fortify individuals but nurtures strong families and flourishing communities, ultimately leading to a prosperous nation,” he asserted.
Responding, Governor Radda acknowledged the intricate challenges confronting the state while underscoring the pivotal position of healthcare in his administration’s policy agenda. He spotlighted proactive measures taken even before his assumption of office, aimed at elevating the state’s healthcare landscape.
“We arrived well-prepared and are wasting no time in executing our strategic policies,” Governor Radda affirmed. He emphasized his calculated decision to appoint capable young individuals to key roles within his cabinet.
During the meeting, Governor Radda presented a comprehensive needs assessment report for the health sector. The report underscores his administration’s unwavering commitment to confronting healthcare challenges head-on.
Governor Radda acknowledged the gravity of the challenges but emphasized the requirement for collective efforts to address them effectively. He noted that while the state government can’t tackle this alone, his administration is resolute in its pursuit of routine immunization and the enhancement of primary health facilities across the state’s 361 wards. He emphasized the critical role these facilities play in supporting underserved communities, especially the marginalized majority that overwhelmingly supported his election.