By Dan-Maryam Zayamu
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, has lamented that Routine Immunisation (RI) coverage in Nigeria is very poor and that cases of maternal mortality are still unacceptably high.
He stated this at the 2nd Quarter Meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Health Care delivery (NTLC), in Abuua, on Monday.
Represented by the Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Samaila Muhammad Mera , Sultan said: “We are aware of funding challenges for the effective engagement of traditional and religious leaders on these issues, but as leaders deeply concerned with welfare of our people, I assure the ED and all partners present here today on behalf of His Eminence that, we would continue to do our utmost best to support all health and related programmes of the Federal 3 Government.
“All we ask for is a regular avenue to be able to feedback to the Agency and partners on true situations at the grassroots.”
Speaking on Nigeria’s polio free status, the royal father said: “It is true, Nigeria is certified Polio free, we are grateful to God and proud individually and collectively for the roles we played in support of our Government and all
stakeholders to achieve the feat.
“However, the reality is Nigeria is not out of the woods as cases of CVDPV2 continue to spread even in states that have been polio free for nearly seven years.
“Added to this is the scourge of Covid-19 and the challenges of educating our people enough to create demand and acceptance for the vaccine; less we forget, RI coverage is very poor and cases of maternal mortality are still unacceptably high in our community.”
Earlier, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, called on traditional rulers in the country to continue to support its efforts in improving Primary Health Care services with particular focus on Routine Immunisation (RI) and maternal and child health.
He, however, pledged his agency will continue to evolve strategies aimed at improving and strengthening Primary Health Care (PHC) for the benefit of all Nigerians.
Represented by Dr. Usman Adamu of the NPHCDA, Shuaib said: “We once again solicit your continued support for primary health care generally with special focus on RI and maternal and child health interventions.
“On our part, we willcontinue to evolve strategies to improve and strengthen primary health care for the benefit of all Nigerians.”
While commending the efforts of the royal fathers in supporting the fight against COVID-19, Shuaib said: “I deeply appreciate your efforts in curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria, especially at the Community level. “During the vaccination roll-out, advocacy visits were made to some Emirs, sensitization meetings were also held to empower the traditional leaders with the right information about the vaccines.
“Your Highnesses, your demonstration of leadership by example by being vaccinated publicly has contributed in no small measure to our successful phase 1 COVID-19 vaccination roll-out which is formally closing today.
“Your Highness, there have been reports of cases of vaccine hesitancy across the States and one of the community engagement strategies we have initiated to mitigate this challenge is the conduct of Town Hall Meetings to address concerns of the public and increase uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This is to improve community knowledge of the facts and benefits of COVID-19 vaccination and to enhance community ownership and participation in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.”
The NPHCDA Executive Director further explained that: “The Town Hall Meetings are to be conducted at four levels – Zonal, State, LGA, and Ward levels.
“Already, the Zonal level Town Hall meetings have been conducted successfully in North Central Zone, (Nasarawa State) and North East Zone, (Adamawa State).
“The northwest Zonal meeting was earlier scheduled for 1st July but has to be postponed due to preparation for the coronation of Emir of Kano.
“We would therefore be counting on your usual support to States to ensure they cascade the Town Hall meetings to the subnational levels.”