As Nigeria continues its search for excellence in healthcare delivery, the Cross River Commissioner for Health, Dr Inyang Asibong, says innovative practices have helped to improve healthcare services in the state.
Asibong made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in on Thursday in Lagos on the sidelines of a seminar on “Digital Health Training: A Masterclass for Technical and Non-Technical Managers”.
NAN reports that the training is organised by Dokilink and sponsored by John Hopkins Program for International Education on Gynaecology and Obstetrics (JHPIEGO).
The training aims at building the capacity of programme managers in the use of digital technology and also to inspire them to brainstorm on ways of making health projects sustainable.
According to Asibong, Cross River won the World Bank Award as the “Best Performing State in Health” in the South-South region and one of the best in the country because of its innovative approach to healthcare delivery.
The commissioner said the World Bank had taken an appraisal at the beginning of the current administration and scored them based on the improvements made.
“In the world of health, everything keeps moving and changing and we didn’t want to be left behind.
“We have improved a lot in our maternal and child health. In fact, a USAID survey gathered by Pathfinder International found out that Cross River had improved by 28 per cent in our maternal mortality rate.
“We’re also focusing on the children. UNICEF has also adjudged us as one of the states with the best child survival indices in Nigeria,” she said.
“On HIV/AIDS, our prevalence rate has reduced. It was 7.1 per cent but now it’s 6.6 per cent and from non-public surveys, it’s already down to about four per cent.
“Our schools of nursing for the first time got accreditation. Our schools of nursing and midwifery, six of them; three nursing, three midwifery. Before now, they were moribund.
“For September and October intake, all the schools are going to be functioning, so we can have graduates of nursing to go into the field and work.”
Asibong gave credit to the governor of the state, Prof. Ben Ayade and his team for being “very passionate and proactive” for the success achieved so far.
The commissioner said one of the innovative approaches taken was working with the state’s partners in community anti-retroviral treatment (ART).
“We go into the communities to test people for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), we don’t wait for them to come to the facility anymore.
“We have volunteers who go from house to house to counsel, test and treat. Cross River is one of the states in the country that started test and treat.
“Once we test and it is positive, we start the treatment and refer them to the nearest pharmacist.
“In fact, we even have community volunteer pharmacists who would go to their homes to continue administering the drugs.
Other approaches are renovating and revitalising three Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in each of the local government areas (LGAs).
“For Vesico Vagina Fistula (VVF), we have a community intensive care funding where we have volunteers in the 18 LGAs who go to get women with VVF out.
“We give them free transport and feed them, and then we offer them free surgeries,” she added.
Asibong explained that the state originally had only one VVF Centre at Ogoja but had to build another in Calabar out of necessity because of the distance.
She said a surgeon was also sent for training to do routine VVF repairs instead of the previous arrangement of pool repairs that sometimes caused delays.
On the state’s Health Insurance Scheme launched in May, Asibong said enrollment was ongoing and that patients would soon start accessing healthcare.
NAN reports that the scheme plans to pool its funds starting with the public sector and companies who employed over 10 people.
Asibong said: “It’s N1,000 per month and it’s going to be mandatory.
“To make it mandatory for people in the non-formal sector, we’re going to have a card where if one wants to register a child in school or needs to get to the bank, he has to have that card.”