Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, has stressed the need for traditional rulers to redouble efforts on Primary Health Care (PHC) services in South East.
Ehanire stated this on Friday while inaugurating the South-East Traditional Leaders’ Committee (SETLC) on Primary Health Care (Services) delivery in Enugu.
The inauguration, part of a two-day programme for traditional rulers of the South-East, was organised by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the Enugu State Primary Health Care Development Agency (ENS-PHCDA).
According to Dr Ehanire, “in order to push PHC services and COVID-19 vaccination forward, there was a need to mobilise traditional rulers, who are very influential in each community, to achieve the desired objective.
“We are going to rely on their powers of advocacy and the respect they command among our people to push PHC services, which included the COVID-19 vaccination, to the next and desirable level.
“With the inauguration today we are making them more relevant to issues of PHC services and they should also have royal input and oversight to ensure that PHC centres under them in communities function optimally.
“We are targeting a huge change, growth and patronage to PHC services and COVID-19 vaccination; and we must achieve all these by active and effective collaboration with our respected and influential traditional rulers,” he said.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, in a remark, said that as gatekeepers of the communities, it was necessary to get them more involved in advocacy and ensuring that the PHC services are timely delivered to the people.
Represented by the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ikechukwu Obi, Ugwuanyi said: “With the traditional rulers coming on board, we will soon achieve and even surpass our targets in various PHC services”.
He said that the government over the years had strived in repositioning PHC services and structures; thus, making the people to easily and affordably access PHC services at each ward in the state.
Also, Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said that with the inauguration, the traditional rulers have been directly connected to the PHCs.
He said “there is no greater collaboration than working and going through traditional rulers to reach the communities.
“The people in the communities and localities listen more to them and the agency sincerely believes that the PHC services target will be better and faster realised through them,” Shuaib said.
He commended the giant strides of Enugu State, through the support of Gov. Ugwuanyi, to PHC services and programmes, adding that the state has continued to witness “sustained and improved” PHC services and ranking for some years now.
“The reward for good work is more work; I want the state and indeed the entire South-East to do more in advocating for increased COVID-19 vaccination and other PHC services,” he said.
The Chairman of the SETLC Committee, Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, said that the traditional rulers have been part of the PHC before now, but “with this inauguration, we will personally ensure that all PHC services run successfully in our various communities”.
Agubuzu, who is also the Chairman of the Traditional Rulers’ Council in Enugu State, said: “We are going to redouble our efforts by putting PHC services and COVID-19 vaccination advocacy at the front burner in our various communities.
“The traditional rulers in the South-East will also ensure that the PHC centres run optimally to the greater benefit of our subjects in our communities.”