Amidst gaps in health personnel, infrastructure needs
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has delivered US$438,972 worth of essential medicines to the governments of Borno and Yobe states, as support aimed at improving”maternal, neonatal and child survival and health outcomes in conflict-affected communities in north-east Nigeria.”
UNICEF said it has also perfected plans to further provide additional funding support of half a million dollars to the two states as a commitment to the enactment of the Primary Health Care Memorandum of Understanding it signed with them.
Unicef said this invaluable support became expedient because for nearly 13 years of the ongoing Boko Haram conflict, “women and children have paid the highest cost” in northeast Nigeria.
“In 2020, each day of conflict claimed the lives of 170 children from direct and indirect causes, and reduced access to health services,” a statement released by Unicef claimed.
The statement also claimed that a quarter of the entire northeast-east Nigeria “have been destroyed or are non-functional, while a shortage of health workers and essential drugs has impeded the delivery of quality health services to pregnant women, newborns and children” thereby exacerbating outbreaks of disease “and worsening child malnutrition in the region.”
But Phuong Nguyen, UNICEF’s Chief of Maiduguri Field Office said he is optimistic that the efforts aimed at “laying the foundation for optimum wellbeing for thousands of children born and yet to be born,” said
“With this intervention, pregnant women in Yobe and Borno States will be able to access primary healthcare facilities in their communities and receive essential drugs, tests and basic medical support in primary healthcare facilities close to their homes.”
Among the drugs being handed over are antimalarials, analgesics, antibiotics and other drugs and equipment. These medicines will help ensure that newborns and other children under the age of five receive protection from malaria, cholera, diarrhoea and other deadly childhood diseases.
The nearly $1 million that UNICEF is cumulatively giving out to the two states is a step towards the right direction as it addresses goals number 3 and 17 of the SDG which emphasizes good health well as well as partnership collaboration.
The Humanitarian Times is however concerned about the sustainability of this multimillion naira intervention being provided to the two states, especially on how it could be effectively and efficiently utilized to deliver the desired services to women and children without addressing the critical gaps in manpower and healthcare facilities that UNICEF pointed out in the statement.