By Jonathan Ugbal
The Cross River State Government says it has activated the disease surveillance and tracking system to prevent the migration of yellow fever following its outbreak in Edo State.
The National Center for Disease Control had last week confirmed nine cases of yellow fever after two decades.
And, the Cross River State ministry of health in a statement said the epidemiology department has been prepared for any eventualities and explained that government remains committed to the health and well being of the residents.
“We owe it as a duty to residents of the State to ensure there’s no migration of disease of any sort into the State especially as we enter into the yuletide season where there will be lots of gathering of people,” read the statement signed by the commissioner, Dr. Inyang Asibong.
“We activated our disease surveillance team to make sure our borders are airtight against anything that will threaten the peace and tranquility we are known for as a State, and our Emergency Response Center is available round the clock to follow up any suspected case,” the State said.
“Yellow Fever virus is spread through bites by an infected mosquito. It is a completely vaccine preventable disease and a single shot provides immunity for a lifetime. The Yellow Fever vaccine is freely available in all health facilities in Nigeria,” the State said.
It advised the public to, “keep their environments clean and free of stagnant water to discourage the breeding of mosquitoes and use insecticide treated mosquito nets, screens on windows and doors to prevent mosquito bites.”
Meanwhile, the 13 motorised infantry brigade of the Nigerian Army has said that it will renovate a health post in Akpabuyo local government area in its bid to strengthen civil military relations.
This was disclosed in a letter sighted by CrossRiverWatch and addressed to the Director General of the State’s Primary Health Care Development Agency (SPHCDA), Dr. Betta Edu.
The letter with reference number 13BDE/G3/240/44 and signed by Captain Dele Popoola for the commander said the renovation was also in line with the Army’s itinerary during the timeframe of Exercise Crocodile Smile III.
“During such exercise, a project is carried out to strengthen civil military relations within the host community,” the Army said.
It continued: “In view of this, I am directed to inform you that 13 Brigade has selected Primary Health Post Ekpri Ikot Ene in Akpabuyo local government area of Cross River State to be renovated. You are please requested to intimate the staff of this development.”
And, Dr. Edu in a statement to CalabarReporters commended the gesture while imploring other arms of the military as well as concerned individuals and body corporates to join hands with the State to achieve its 72 hour Primary Health Care makeover challenge.
“I am happy that even the military is keying into this noble project and wish to express my profound gratitude to the 13 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Calabar and the Chief of Army Staff.
“I am also imploring other military forces, multinational cooperation, paramilitary, corporate bodies to partner with 72 hour primary health care makeover challenge and uplift, revitalise and fix our primary healthcare facilities in Cross River State,” Edu said.
Cross River State has over 1,015 model, comprehensive primary health care centers and health posts with about half either understaffed, dilapidated infrastructure or destroyed by communal wars.
And, the primary health care makeover challenge aimed at activating the five million dollars available to the State via the World Bank funded Saving One Million Lives Program for Results (SOML PforR) initiative to improve health infrastructure at the rural level where between 70 to 80 percent of residents dwell.
About a dozen facilities have been renovated so far under the initiative with a target of almost 20 times that figure to be achieved.
And, the State Government says it will tackle the challenge of manpower through the employment of 1,000 more nurses.
The Governor, Senator Ben Ayade gave the directive for employment shortly before commissioning into use, 54 Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing tricycle ambulances in Calabar, the State capital.
“My Director General, Primary Healthcare Development Agency has always asked that I give her approval to employ 1000 people to mount the Primary Healthcare system, I use this opportunity before all of you to give her an approval of 1000 people to be employed as Nurses to take care of the system,” Ayade had said.
He explained that: “It has become necessary because there is no primary healthcare without the attendant staff and so you have 1000 people approved for you to hire,” adding that, “I know it is an extra burden on me but I have the capacity for I am an old head on a young shoulder, so I can take it.”
The commissioning was part of the itinerary for the quarterly review meeting of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA). Executive Secretaries of over two dozen SPHCDA’s had stormed Calabar for the meeting led by the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib.
And, Mr. Ayade told them while on a courtesy visit to him that the training and retraining of nurses and midwives was key and “not to lay emphasis on infrastructure which is the new philosophy of the black man as money is put where it can be visibly seen in order to win an election. But, realise that the building itself is not a primary health but the service you provide.”
Saddened by instances where most institutions lie desolate, empty and abandoned without support, Ayade rhetorically asked, “what is Primary Health without primary drugs? What is Primary Health without a responsible access to medicare? What is Primary Health when you have no provisions? What is drug provisions when they are not properly stored?”
Continuing, he questioned the rationale for a Primary Healthcare system where drugs are allowed to be kept in improper condition, doctors not available and Nurses not properly trained, intimating that, “as we list the numbers of more and more PHC centers we have got, let us refocus and redress our mind to the emotional endemic theory if we are morally right to parade ourselves as Executive Secretaries when our hospitals and PHC centers are actually empty and death traps.”
Also, Ayade who has been critical of the way donor funds are spent, sued for a new philosophy in leadership as against the trend where public office holders amass wealth while allowing a large population of the society perish in penury.
He warned, “the more you eat, the more you purge and the quicker you die; the more you amass to leave behind for your child, the more careless and worthless he becomes,” reasoning that, “God in His balance structure has made it clear that we can just reduce this to a simple lifestyle, so, leave the excess and focus on this Primary Health Care.”
The governor further said, “I task you to ask yourselves if you have been fair to the opportunity God has given to you. That your governor that is doing so well or not doing too well, leave his own and fix your own portion that is within your purview.”
Earlier, Dr Shuaib applauded the governor for his vision on primary healthcare in the State, which he maintained has increased access, availability, comprehensiveness and integration of Primary Health Care centers all over the country.
“The Primary Health Care services can be of the highest quality only if we ensure that the health workers have the knowledge and skills to deliver in a way that is compassionate, respectful and treat patients with respect and dignity. In the last few weeks of our assessment in Cross River, it is exactly what we are beginning to hear,” Shuaib affirmed.
Shuaib who commended Ayade for the procurement of the tricycle ambulances, dded that, “We are proud to be associated with the work you have done in renovating over a hundred healthcare centres, the construction of over 15 new Primary Health Care centers, the provision of solar powers to over 159 primary healthcare centers.”
Also, he admitted that, “one of the things we have been preaching in the last few years is how to connect the work that goes on in the primary health care centres with the next level of care, I am excited that, that is exactly what you are doing in Cross River, trying to improve the referral system so that when people come to the Primary Health Care centers which is the first level of care, if they do not get that level of care that will give them help, there is a way that they can get secondary care immediately.”
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