The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has urged traditional rulers to strive to ensure Primary Health Care service delivery and penetration of COVID-19 vaccination in the South-East.
Ehanire made the appeal while inaugurating the South-East Traditional Leaders’ Committee (SETLC) on Primary Health Care (Services) Delivery in Enugu on Friday.
The event was organised by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and Enugu State Primary Health Care Development Agency (ENS-PHCDA).
The minister noted that to push PHC services and COVID-19 vaccination forward, there was a need to mobilise traditional rulers, who were very influential in their communities.
He said the ministry would rely on the traditional rulers’ power of advocacy and the respect they command among the people to push PHC services, which included COVID-19 vaccination, to the next and most desirable level.
He said with the inauguration, the traditional rulers were made more relevant to issues of PHC services and should have input and oversight to ensure that centres in their communities functioned optimally.
Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State said that as gatekeepers of the communities, it was necessary to get them more involved in advocacy and ensure that the PHC services were timely delivered to the people.
Ugwuanyi, represented by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ikechukwu Obi, said: “With the traditional rulers coming on board, we will soon achieve and even surpass our targets in various PHC services.”
He said that the state government over the years had strived in repositioning PHC services and structures, thus making the people easily and affordably access PHC services in each ward in the state.
The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, also said that with the inauguration, the traditional rulers had been directly connected to the PHCs.
He said: “there is no greater collaboration than working and going through traditional rulers to reach the communities.
“The people in the communities and localities listen more to them and the agency sincerely believes that the PHC services target will be better and faster realised through them.”
He called on the state and the entire south-east to do more in advocating increased COVID-19 vaccination and other PHC services.
The Chairman of the SETLC, Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, said they had been part of the PHC before now but would this time personally ensure that all PHC services run successfully in the various communities.
Agubuzu, also the Chairman of the Traditional Rulers’ Council in the state, said: “We are going to redouble our efforts by putting PHC services and COVID-19 vaccination advocacy at the front burner in our various communities.
“The traditional rulers in the South-East will also ensure that the PHC centres run optimally to the greater benefit of our subjects in our communities.
“We are going to use town criers, community meetings/gatherings, and even our cabinet meetings to discuss PHC services and ensure that everyone in our communities is healthy and sound.”
The Executive Secretary of ENS-PHCDA, Dr. George Ugwu, noted that the inauguration was a celebration of the excellent PHC services Governor Ugwuanyi had brought to the state through sound PHC policies and massive financial support.
Ugwu said that the inauguration would surely deepen PHC services and enlarge its coverage in the region as well as the building of more modern Type-3 PHC centres.