Kaduna – The Kaduna State Primary Health Care Development Agency, has set up a 32-member committee of traditional rulers to promote health issues in rural communities.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the committee is chaired by Dr Bello Abdulkadir, Salanken Zazzau and District Head of Waje, Tudun Wada in Zaria.
Hamza Ikara, the State Health Education Officer, said at a two day training for members of the committee, that the effort would promote and strengthen demand creation activities and utilisation of health services at the grassroots.
“Kaduna state is among the poor performing states in terms of routine immunisation with only 35.5 per cent of the children under one year fully immunised of all vaccines.
“ The lower the routine immunisation coverage, the higher the infant and under fives mortality rate.”
He explained that the committee would serve as liaison between the agency and Emirs and Chiefs as well as communities in the state.
“They are to develop the capacity plan and conduct training for traditional institutions in the state.
“Collect and collate monthly vital statistics and routine immunisation data from all emirates and chiefdoms.”
Ikara noted that the initiative would enhance sustainable community engagement in routine immunisation and enhance access to health care services.
NAN reports that the training, organised in collaboration with Chigari Foundation, was also aimed at developing sustainable community-based mechanism for routine immunisation.
“They are the custodians of culture in the society and people look up to them, so we are training them in order to help sensitise residents on the importance of health and immunisation.
“If we want to achieve 100 per cent immunisation and address other health issues, we should use the traditional leaders because they are the ones that communicate well with the people.
“ We are training them so that they can go back to their respective emirates and chiefdoms and disseminate the same information to village heads, ward heads, and the rural communities.
“ This training will also help to sensitise the members on linking routine immunisation and other health services with the community with a view to cascade down to district, village and ward levels.
“ It will help support them think through core components of community engagement strategy and work plan.”
Ikara disclosed that the committee would henceforth assume greater responsibility of ensuring all newly born in their domain remain healthy and fully immunised.
“The participant are to ensure that all newly born babies and immunisation defaulters are tracked back to completes their schedule through their village and ward heads.
“ They are also to ensure that the traditional leaders at all levels keep relevant immunisation records and take active roles in program monitoring in their domain.”
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of the agency, Dr Hadiza Balarabe said in spite of the provision of health services to where people live and work, the demand for routine health services still remain low.
“This has left a gap which compromises the uptake and utilisation of the services being provided.
“ I see hope and success in our collective quest for better health for our population.
“Achieving health is a matter of partnership and I believe this is just the beginning of bigger, stronger and better partnership,” She said.(NAN)