BY NWACHUKWU SAMUEL AMOBI
The Chief of Staff to the United Nations Secretary-General (COS), Mr Earle Courtenay Rattray, has applauded Nigeria on impressive integrated health delivery services adopted by the country in delivering essential healthcare services to its citizens.
Mr Rattray also appreciated the commitment of UN staff in serving the course of sustainable development and health security in Nigeria.
The COS made the remark after the expedition on the sideline of his mission to attend the inauguration ceremony of Nigeria’s new President, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu on 29 May 2023 in Abuja.
The COS conducted field visits within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and engaged with government officials, stakeholders, and frontline health workers to witness first-hand, some interventions by WHO, UNICEF, and other UN agencies to support the Nigerian Government and how these investments are strengthening global health security and pandemic preparedness.
During the tour, he visited the Wupa sewage treatment plant and the Family Health Clinic, where he got valuable insights related to WHO’s funding and technical assistance to capacity building, integrated disease surveillance, outbreak response, delivery of integrated health services and how clients receive a continuum of preventive and curative care according to their needs over time.
While at the WUPA site, Dr Nwachukwu Theresa, the FCT Epidemiologist, informed the COS that, “WHO tremendously contributes to disease surveillance in Nigeria by providing transport logistics, technical and normative guidance, capacity building and training of sample collectors, mentorship, and supportive supervision”.
Environmental surveillance monitors poliovirus transmission in human populations by examining wastewater/sewage supposedly contaminated by human faeces.
The WUPA sewage treatment plant located at the Idu settlement of Abuja Municipal Area Council, is one of three environmental sample sites in FCT.
Demonstrating sewage collection for testing, the plant Manager, Mr Abubakar Lapai, described the operations and functionality of the mimic panel, the process of environmental sample collection, laboratory testing, and chambers (inlet to outlet) for water pre-treatment based on the WHO standards.
Similarly, at the Family Health Clinic, Mr Rattray was given a tour of the various health service delivery units of the facility, which include registry, triage, non-communicable disease screening maternal, new-born, child health, and community management of malnutrition, cold chain, COVID-19 vaccination, routine immunization, health facility surveillance, community audio-visual acute flaccid paralysis detection and reporting (AVADAR).
After the tour, Mr. Rattray says, “I am impressed by the level of disease surveillance. The goal is zero tolerance against polio and ensuring no child is affected by the disease.
The UN is assisting the Government of Nigeria with funding and providing expertise across the UN family. The officials and people I have interacted with at the facilities appreciate the expertise shared by WHO through capacity building and on-the-job training,” he says.
Expatiating on the aim of the excursion, the WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, says the field visits by the COS were to give him first-hand experience of activities on the field which will generate high-level advocacy towards accelerating health using digital technology innovation and lessons learned during COVID-19 and polio eradication efforts to build on expertise towards the last mile, seen in the soon-to-be-endorsed pandemic treaty.
The FCT won the second runner-up among the North Central States in the Leadership Challenge award for improving primary healthcare services. It was a joint project of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Dangote Foundation, UNICEF, and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.