The Executive Director (ED) of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib hosted over 100 media, civil society organizations (CSOs) and development partners in its maiden quarterly media interactive roundtable. The event which was convened by Community Health and Research Initiative (CHR), took place on June 22, 2017 at the main conference hall in the annex building of Top Rank Hotels, Abuja. The forum was convened to share the Agency’s vision and goals for immunization and primary healthcare (PHC) services, as well as the desire to strengthen accountability and transparency in the activities of the NPHCDA.
Program Director at Community Health and Research Initiative (CHR) Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba started proceedings with an introduction as MamaYe offered goodwill messages. Representing the Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA) coalition, Mrs. Chika Offor spoke on behalf of all CSOs to thank the ED for creating this forum, stating that CSOs had long looked forward to this opportunity to engender accountability around PHC services particularly on immunization.
The ED quickly enumerated the vision of the NPHCDA through four cardinal points:
- Strengthen governance structures and accountability – thus rebranding the image of the NPHCDA
- Close out on polio – having gone one year without any new case since the last outbreak in Borno State
- Strengthen routine immunization and supply chain – thus raising the immunization coverage following the National Immunization Coverage Survey (NICS)/Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), which both revealed that more than half of Nigerian eligible children do not get the vaccines they need
- PHC revitalization – in line with the Health Minister’s agenda of making at least one PHC facility functional in each ward
Dr. Faisal announced that following the observed low coverage rate, the state of immunization in Nigeria has been declared a public health emergency. To that effect, an Emergency Operational Centre (EOC) would be set up to meet regularly and come up with solutions. He further cited a solution that was used in the 1980s where designated fixed stations were replaced with more outreach activities.
To expand on these four visions, the ED revealed that the Agency was working with McKinsey to clean up the human resource data base and ensure that all staff provide value for money. He indicated that most staff of the Agency would be deployed to zones and states were more services were required. He further revealed that the Agency was working with KPMG to institute a strong financial management system.
The ED also announced that the Agency would soon embark on an immunization retreat to come up with innovative strategies to increase coverage rates because, in his own words, “We cannot be doing the same thing and expect different results.”
The event then proceeded into the interactive session as questions were fielded from members of the press. On the issue of sustainable immunization financing, the ED stated he has been leading advocacy to the National Assembly and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum on the importance of adequate funding. He also made reference to the IVAC study which revealed that for every $1 spent on immunization, a country gets $16 – $44 in return on investment.
Speaking on transparency, the ED promised to make all activities within the Agency open to all stakeholders, and committed to sanction any disruptive element within or beyond the Agency. Responding to the statement by Gavi CEO on Nigeria having the highest number of un-immunized children, Dr. Faisal revealed that the Agency was aware and that the CEO’s visit was intended to show support and advocate for immunization funding. He ended by stating his resolve to work with CSOs, media and development partners to achieve the objectives of the Agency.
With WAVA members and champions situated in every geopolitical zone in the country, the coalition is strategically poised to support the Agency’s vision and mandate through advocacy and accountability.