Lagos, Japanese agency partner to improve community health services

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Health has launched the pro-poor community health project; a project that focuses on improved outreach services in communities. 

The project also encourages members of the community to take advantage of health care services provided at the primary health centres (PHCs) close to them. At a ceremony held recently at the Eti-Osa Local Government secretariat, Igbo-Efon, to launch the project, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina, explained that the pro-poor community health project sponsored by JICA commenced in year 2014 and expected to run through year 2018, adding that the aim is to expand and improve the concept of universal health coverage, reduce child morbidity and mortality and improve maternal health. 

She added that the project which is presently being implemented in Eti-Osa LGA is targeted at poor communities where lack of finance, poor accessibility to health services and limited knowledge about health services amongst others, is inhibiting unfettered access to health services. Adeshina listed communities which are intended beneficiaries of the project in Eti-Osa LGA to include; Ikota, Bambo, Ebute, Ajiran, Jaknde, ebeute-Ikate amongst others adding that the implementation of the project will include the administration of questionnaires to find out the challenges confronting residents of the area especially women of child bearing age in having to access to health services in the community especially at the PHC with the aim of surmounting these challenges. Said She, “some people will say they have financial barrier, some will say they couldn’t locate health facilities in their community, some may complain about the attitude of the health workers in facilities close to them while other may cite cultural or religious conviction for not patronizing these facilities”. 

“The questionnaires to be administered are meant to elicit response about why people don’t patronize PHCs, attend ante-natal or post-natal services in PHCs or why they choose to patronize other traditional health care providers rather than the PHCs with the aim of solving identified problems and ensuring unfettered access to health services, Adeshina said”. Decrying the low patronage at the PHC level, the Special Adviser advice residents of the area to take advantage of various health services provided at the PHCs stressing the PHCs have been revitalized to provide mostly free and affordable services adding that the State government believes that primary healthcare system is the bedrock of any health system. 

She gave kudos to JICA for sustaining its commitment in assisting the State government in the areas of improving maternal and child health indices and reducing maternal and child morbidity and mortality in line with MDGs four and five. Also Speaking, the Chief Resident Representative of JICA, Mr. Hirotaka Nakamura noted that JICA’s activities in the health sector is hinged on maternal, newborn and child health and strengthening the health system in Nigeria adding that the agency’s activities is evident by past projects which include the project for improvement of maternal, newborn and child health from 2010 to 2014. 

He noted that the first phase of JICA health project was aimed at providing intervention to health care providers through midwifery skill trainings on antenatal care, delivery management, and training on activities to improve operating environment which aims to promote the efficiency of routine works conducted at target PHCs. Hirotaka added that the phase also aim at providing intervention to community through capacity building for ward health committee, health education for male and community needs assessment, stressing that one of the outcomes of the first phase revealed that more women had enrolled for antenatal care adding however that a number of women still prefer to deliver at home rather than health facilities. 

“It is against this background that the current phase of the project focuses on encouraging members of the community to take advantage of the health care services provided at the primary health centres close to each community”, he said. Hirotaka expressed optimism that access could be achieved by strengthening outreach services in communities, increasing awareness about health and environmental health in community, initiating activities that help community members engage in matters concerning their health and mapping out possible solutions to challenges to access health care services and strengthen capacity of health care providers. 

He solicits the supports of the local government authority and community leaders for successful implementation of the project adding that cooperation and understanding for the project will no doubt ensure the effort of health workers will be worth a lot and yield the desired result.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on June 6,  2015.


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