By Ibeneme Ebelechukwu, Abuja
The Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Services (CHIPS) Programme launched in Nasarawa state by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 towards the achievement of universal health coverage has been lauded for yielding the desired result.
Proponents say it has helped to bring health care closer to women and children in the community.
Investigations revealed that more than 46% of pregnant women in the state now have access to the ante- natal care services while under six children numbering about 29,000 have been treated for malaria, diarrhoea and fast breathing.
Speaking during a review meeting on the CHIPS programme in Abuja recently, minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole said the programme has so far complimented the revitalization of primary health care centres and efforts of the ministry aimed at making at least one primary health care centre per ward functional.
With an upgraded and equipped facility having the needed drugs and adequate, competent and motivated staff, these facilities will serve as referral sites for demand being generated by the CHIPS agents in the communities.
“The inclusion of a female empowerment component as one of the principles of the programme has also helped in the achievement of the educational and economic empowerment of women serving as CHIPS agents. In this way, this component has contributed to transforming their household economic status and promoting sustainability. Achieving this required that programmes that relate to gender empowerment across sectors, are deliberately aligned with the CHIPS programme”, he said
It could be recalled that in February last year President Buhari launched the CHIPS programme in Nasarawa State. Following the launch and initial implementation in Nasarawa state it is recording positive results in the uptake of maternal and child health services in our primary health care facilities. This is saving the lives of women and children, and is providing clear evidence that the programme is heading in the right direction.
The CHIPS Programme is designed to improve the village health worker concept promoted over the years by the federal government. It aims to integrate all the multiple, inefficient and poorly coordinated community health volunteer efforts from existing community-based programmes into a single well-coordinated programme, taking advantage of the multiple resources that have been previously deployed.
Of particular importance is the plan to use the CHIPS programme as a clear transition pathway for human and material resources previously deployed for polio control in Nigeria. This includes the voluntary community mobilizers, the supervisors, the technology available for tracking, and the traditional and religious networks.
The CHIPS Agents are tasked with providing basic services to women and children and generating demand for Primary Health Care services in their communities. This way, the minister said “we stand a major chance of reducing delays to use of health care such as the delay in decision making at the household level, and the delay in accessing basic life-saving health interventions. Additionally, the CHIPS agents will help increase access to basic treatment for children with cough and fast breathing, diarrhoea and malaria by bringing these services to households”.
He called on other state governments yet to roll out the programme in their states, to do so as a matter of urgency adding that the nation was more committed to ensuring that its citizens have access to the health care they need, when and where they need them.
“Health is a right for the very poor and vulnerable population groups living in the most remote parts of Nigeria.
Earlier, the chief executive officer of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr. Shuaibu lamented that despite progress being made, the nation was still faced with resultant poor health indices which he said must be tackled with an effective primary health care system with a strong community level component.
Meanwhile, following the presidential launch of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) in January 2019, the minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole, has announced that the pilot scheme of the programme would be flagged off in Osun, Niger, Katsina and Abia states.
Speaking on this recently in Abuja, Professor Adewole said that the programme was the Federal Government’s direct response to addressing high inequalities in access to quality health care and eliminating out of pocket expenses for primary health care services in order to improve health outcomes in Nigeria.
To achieve that goal, the minister explained, that the fund would provide one primary health care centre, per ward, identified by states (based on defined criteria) with operational budgets to enable those facilities improve service delivery.
Also, the BHCPF, now known as HUWE would reimburse facilities for delivering the specified package of services which include:- ante-natal care, delivery (including caesarean sections), family planning, treatment of childhood under five(5) illnesses, malaria treatment for all and screening for non- communicable disease, Adewole added.
He stated that HUWE had also made provision for the increased Public Health Emergency Response to ensure that Nigerians were able to receive emergency medical treatment.
He further stated that services covered under the program, would be delivered in both public and private care facilities thus ensuring that facilities focused on quality improvement to gain market share.