How Shema checkmates meningitis, malaria in Katsina
From ANDY ASEMOTA, Katsina
Wednesday May 09, 2012
Gov. Shetima

The Permanent Secretary in the Katsina State Ministry of Health, Dr Ahmed Qabassiyu, has disclosed that meningitis has been kicked out of the state at least for the next 10 years. He said that the feat was achieved through massive immunization against the disease in the length and breath of the state.

According to him, “for now, Katsina State will be effectively away from meningitis for the next 10 years. In addition, we distributed 2.6 million nets to prevent malaria. So, by preventing our children from mosquito bites, the cases of malaria are coming down.”

Recently, the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria went in search of a robust initiative that would serve as a roadmap to an improved Primary Health Care (PHC) service in the country. The giant strides of Katsina State Government in the sub-sector endeared it to the nation’s health workers and Governor Ibrahim Shema was given an award.

Dr Qabassiyu, therefore, maintained that the state occupies an important place in the current dispensation as far as health services are concerned, disclosing that 20 states across the country are trying to replicate the initiatives.
Qabassiyu volunteered: “We have received 20 states across Nigeria that have visited Katsina to see what the state Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA) is doing with a view to copying and establishing similar agencies.”
The erstwhile Executive Secretary of the state PHCDA threw light on what he termed the lofty heights attained by the state in health and social activities as well as the imperative of the second orthopaedic hospital in Northern Nigeria being built by Katsina State Governor, Barrister Ibrahim Shema.

On the nature of healthcare delivery system in Katsina State under the present administration, he said: “My impression on the health care delivery under the administration is that it has given healthcare a very good focus and we are implementing the best of resources. The governor is a good leader; he is accountable and responsible to the needs and aspirations of the people. We are getting the needs of the people and we are responding to them directly.

“Looking at the budget of the state this year, the allocation to the heath has been increased. If you look at the programmes, we have developed work plans and approval has already been given for this quarter’s projects that would soon be put in place. He is also running the free medical care for the less privileged, which is gulping N45 million each quarter for the purchase of drugs. In addition, the governor has already improved and renovated many of our hospitals. We have already procured equipment for them. Many new health facilities have also been put in place by the State Ministry of Health, the PHCDA and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”

Qabasssiyu added that when Shema came into office, he inaugurated the Community Development Committees (CDCs) and they went to each community and ascertained what the people wanted. “Now, these villages have already been provided with 361 health facilities. He has already responded to their needs. When you look at staff motivation, the governor has already made it a policy that on the 23rd day of every month, he will give approval and by 25th or 26th all personnel would have been paid their salaries.

This is a very good system. Currently, in the Ministry of Health, we do not have any outstanding promotion and this is another good motivation for the staff. In addition, the governor has approved the CONMESS –CONHESS (the new salary structure for health workers), which is now in place”.
The permanent secretary said that against the backdrop of these developments, which resulted in the top performances in the health sector, it is not difficult to understand the praises and attention from individuals and organizations.

“I believe Katsina is the only state that has implemented the mobile ambulance system in which we have 34 mobile ambulances fully stocked with drugs, equipment and personnel. The personnel are only working in the mobile ambulance; they don’t have any other office assignment. Their main office is the ambulance and they have weekly schedule – from one village to another. This is an attempt to reach other villages that do not have health facilities. Fifteen percent of the immunization in the state is being obtained through this mobile health care service. Thousands have been treated. And as we speak, we have received 20 states across Nigeria that have visited Katsina to see what the state PHCDA is doing with a view to copying Katsina and also establishing similar agencies, ” he explained.

In terms of staff strength and manpower, he disclosed that the state has four health (personnel) training institutions comprising two schools of health technology, one school of nursing and one school of midwifery.
Qabassiyu talked about the community involvement, stressing: “We are putting a lot of efforts towards the religious leaders, the traditional leaders, the general community and the media with a view to giving the people the right information to move forward”.

Further enumerating the highpoints of the sector, he said that the state has not recorded cases of measles this year because of the massive immunization they had. And there are no cases of meningitis because our people took advantage of the massive immunization campaign. The immunization against meningitis would last for 10 years. So, for now, Katsina State will be effectively away from meningitis for the next 10 years.

“In addition, we distributed 2.6 million nets to prevent malaria because 60 per cent of cases of Malaria are because of mosquitoes. So, by preventing our children from these diseases, the cases of malaria are coming down. So, there is no doubt that the current administration has done excellently well. Recently, the medical and health workers union gave credit to Katsina State and also honoured Governor Shema as the Best Governor in improving Primary Health Care Nigeria.”

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