By Ushang Ewa
The Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Services (CHIPS) program recently launched by Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari will aid in the curbing of several communicable diseases as well as make community health extension services more efficient says the Director General of the Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Betta Edu.
Dr. Edu said that the CHIPs program was more like an update on the ward development committees (WDCs) in operation in Cross River State which aims at promoting an all-inclusive implementation of health strategies, programs and policies.
“The CHIPS program is a laudable initiative of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency which seeks to improve access and equitable coverage to essential health services including minor illnesses in community, maternal, new born and child health,” Edu told CrossRiverWatch on phone while in Lafia, the Nassarawa state capital where Mr. Buhari had flagged off the program.
She said it will aid the task shifting policy being campaigned for especially in hard to reach areas where the staff strength is less than average.
“The program will reduce the current burden on health staff who are based more in the health facilities with very little extension work being carried out in the communities in recent years as the influencers will be trained on basic health services such as provision of first aid, motivational talks, promotion of hygiene and environmental sanitation in their communities which are effective preventive measures against several diseases and illnesses including Lassa fever which has claimed over a dozen lives,” she said.
On its semblance with the WDCs in operation in Cross River, Dr. Edu averred that the model may grow to become a model for health sectors across the world.
“The influencers will not replace health staff but will assist them and with time, I believe this model which may seem like an extension to the ward development committees which is a core practice in Cross River State for instance; will become a reference guide for others in the health sectors of third world countries and sub Saharan Africa; especially those combating with communicable diseases such as Ebola and Lassa fever among other,” she said.