Thought Leadership

"Born Again" – reviving childhood immunisation in Nigeria

3 Mins read

Immunisation has been one of the primary drivers of this blog.

The reason is simple. Childhood immunisation is widely recognized as the most effective public health interventions in modern history. It requires relatively straight forward systems of delivery, and the cost of the measles vaccine, for instance is less than 100 naira. These vaccines have been available for the past 40 years, and yet more children die from measles in Nigeria than in any other country in the world.

National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), the agency currently responsible for delivering on immunisation has had a tortured history. It was established in 1992 to provide leadership that supports the promotion and implementation of high quality, and sustainable primary health care (PHC). This would be for all through resource mobilization, collaboration, partnership and development of community-based systems and functional infrastructure. In addition, it would ensure that infants are fully immunized against vaccine preventable diseases before attaining the age of 12 months. Expectations were high as the late Olikoye Ransome-Kuti was asked to lead the agency….But he was literally the last credible leader this most important agency has had in its 20 odd years of existence. To make matters worse, the Obasanjo administration merged two failing parastatals – NPHCDA and NPI under the “distinguished” leadership of Chief Titi Koleoso-Adelekan.

To understand how bad things have been, I recommend a book – Academics, Epidemics and Politics by Prof. Idris Mohammed, former Chairman of the board of the National Programme on Immunisation when the national coverage for childhood immunisation fell to 13% (no..this is not a typo!).

Sadly…for years NPHCDA has simply not delivered on its mandate. The reasons for this are not hard to find
. Suffice to say that a lot of the failings of this important agency in the past 10 years can be put down to a failure of leadership.

Sadly the consequence of failure of this type of agency is that CHILDREN DIE…yours and mine.

BUT there is some good news…

This is the vision of the Nigerian Primary Health Care Development agency under the new leadership of Dr. Muhammad Pate –

“Nigeria will be a nation of healthy people with equitable and affordable access to primary health care through a system that delivers quality, integrated services with the participation of all stakeholders”

Gratefully …for the first time since Professor Ransom Kuti left the agency, NPHCDA has the leadership it deserves in the former Director of the World Bank, and Adjunct Professor at Duke University, North Carolina, United States, and and for the last few months Executive Director of NPHCDA – Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate. On this blog, we have been careful not to follow the path of several media outlets and celebrate individuals, but we have to celebrate the emergence of credible, competent and honest leaders in the public space in Nigeria. In the midst of the past rot at NPHCDA as made lucidly public by one of its…past board chairman; Idris Mohohammed in his book Academics, Epidemics and Politics.

Find some recent quotes in interviews in the Nigerian press especially the first one. Maybe …there is hope after all.

The News
Corruption In Health Sector Is Unacceptable

With Chukwuma Muanya – The Guardian
…my third objective is to see the agency repositioned internally, meaning our strategy or structure, our systems, our people actually well positioned to deliver on our mandate. We are now going to have a retreat, and we are having consultations internally as to this major configuration of the agency collectively and then position our staff and build their capacity, so that they are able to play an effective part in making us move forward.

…he described actions taken to raise operational efficiency within the Agency, with routine immunisation and in the field during campaigns.

Daily Trust
Why health care delivery should target rural dwellers

What a difference it would make to the lives of of our children if he succeeds…what a difference

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

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