Sokoto, 10 July 2017 - Paramount rulers under the umbrella body, Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Health Care (NTLC), are determined to continue with their role of mass mobilization and community engagement to boost population immunity and improve health indicators in the region.
Current statistics indicate that in Nigeria, the northern region has the highest maternal and child deaths. Out of the 19 states in the region, Sokoto has the lowest percent of children fully immunized within the eligible age cohort. With the high number of unimmunized children, significant portion of the population is exposed to a wide range of diseases such as pneumococcal disease, meningitis, measles, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, Hepatitis B, Yellow fever, tetanus and other complications.
Chairing the NTLC quarterly meeting in Sokoto on 09 July 2017, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and Chairman of Islamic Council Nigeria, Alhaji Abubakar Saad lll noted that the traditional institution is dedicated to supporting government and partners towards achieving immunization coverage targets and reducing the high infant and mortality rates.
“The poor health indicators in the region are responsible for reducing human capital in the north and are a major challenge to us”, the Sultan stressed.
He therefore stated that, NTLC with membership from 19 states of northern Nigeria would explore the existing system of coordination and community governance to expand its role beyond immunization to broader primary healthcare goals such as the preparation and involvement in the upcoming measles campaign and creating demand to shore up routine immunization coverage from the present trend. The NTLC also aims to set precedence for achieving national targets on non-communicable diseases.
To sustain the engagement of NTLC, Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director (ED) of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), shared the strategic vision of the agency, which also prioritizes the north.
According to the ED, the NPHCDA under his leadership will reposition the PHC system for effective service delivery and universal health coverage across Nigeria. To achieve its mission, NPHCDA is currently focused on governance and accountability, PHC revitalization, polio eradication as well as strengthening routine immunization and supply chain.
Traditional leaders play a critical role in increasing vaccine acceptance for polio vaccination and are credited for the successes of other health interventions in Nigeria.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds the NTLC quarterly meetings for polio eradication activities, while World Health Organization (WHO), provides the required technical support.
Traditional rulers from 19 Northern states, NPHCDA Directors, Development partners including WHO, UNICEF, CORE Group and Rotary International attended the 2017 2nd quarterly meeting.