By Emeka Nwokocha
The second phase of the Global Fund for ATM sponsored free malaria treatment has commenced in Delta state, with the Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunization and Nutrition (ACOMIN) commencing routine monitoring of the programme, to ensure it runs without hindrance.
As part of the routine monitoring exercise, the Programme Officer at ACOMIN, Mr. Austin Uwede paid a courtesy call to the Chairmen of Isoko South, Ughelli North, Patani, and Ughelli South local governments to acquaint them with the programme and seek collaboration to address inherent challenges at the health facilities where the free malaria treatment is given, so as to making the programme run successfully.
Speaking to the Chairman of Patani local government council, Hon. Isaac Aguanah, the Programme Officer said: “recall that in our last visit, we informed you about the free malaria treatment that would take place in your local government, being sponsored by the Global Fund for ATM. We have come today to tell you that we have commenced the free malaria treatment in some of the health facilities in your local government for two months now, and there has been an impressive turn out of women, girls, men and children from various communities to the health facilities to benefit from the programme.
“We are continuing with the services to cover other communities in Patani local government area, but in the course of the programme, there are challenges at the health facilities which could seriously limit the success of the programme. These challenges include lack of running water, lack of electricity, shortage of medical personnel, lack of good road, shortage of IPT drugs for pregnant women (drug that prevents the child from contracting malaria), lack of test kits, and insecurity. We passionately call on you to help us fix these problems so that the programme will run smoothly and achieve its desired objective.”
Responding, Hon. Aguanah thanked the ACOMIN team for their efforts in ensuring the health programme runs successfully.
He said: “lnasmuch as I know that the safety of my people begins with protection of their lives through quality health care services, I will visit these facilities and work out modalities to address some of the challenges as soon as possible.”
At Isoko North local government area, the Programme Officer, Mr. Austin Uwede met with the duo of Barrister Henry Obukeowho, and Dr. Eric Jarikre, Head of Personnel Management (HPM), and Executive Secretary, Health Authority of the Council who stood in for the Chairman of the Council, Hon. Christian Iteire. Mr. Uwede acquainted them with the challenges plaguing the implementation of the free malaria treatment in some of the facilities in the local government, and sought the Chairman’s support in fixing some of the challenges. Uwede said, “ACOMIN is a Civil Society Organization (CSO) representing the Global Fund for ATM in monitoring the implementation of the ongoing second phase of the free malaria treatment in 13 states in Nigeria including Delta State. The first phase of the programme started in 2019 and ended in 2020, and Delta State was equally a beneficiary. Your local government, Isoko North is one of the designated local governments benefitting from the free malaria treatment.
Uwede explains further, “Global Fund for ATM supplies all the malaria commodities (drugs) to designated health facilities where the treatment will be given. Our role in this important programme is to ensure accountability in dispensing of the drugs; to ensure the commodities provided are utilized for the purpose of the programme; to ensure all stakeholders in the programme (health officers, cleaners, other support personnel) carry out their duties effectively at the facilities, including cooperation from the communities.”
He said: “when we visit any facility, our intention is to find out how the programme is running, and if there are complaints about shortage of drugs, we will respond by engaging those responsible for supply of drugs to ensure the programme runs smoothly. On the other hand, if the complaints are about poor delivery of service by the health officers, we will engage the local governments Councils to ensure the health officers give efficient services in order not to jeopardize the objective of the free malaria treatment.”
Uwede continued, “my team will also want to know if there are adequate tools at the facilities, such as running water, security, adequate staff, and good facilities for the health officers to carry out their duties efficiently. But when the tools are not available, we will appeal to the Chairmen of the Councils to help us provide them to make the facilities conducive for the programme to run without any hindrance.
“We also want to know how the Local Governments are supporting the programme, in terms of budgetary allocation, and also, what the government can do to make sure the programme runs smoothly under a conducive environment.”
Mr. Uwede reiterated that the free malaria treatment is entirely given free of charge, even as he stated that the programme only treats malaria.
Responding, the HPM, Barr. Obukeowho commended ACOMIN for its role in ensuring the free malaria treatment runs smoothly. He said the Chairman is passionate about the well-being of the people of Isoko North, adding that the Chairman would give urgent attention to the outlined challenges to facilitate the health programme.
In the same vein, the Executive Secretaries of Ughelli North, Dr. Johnson Uyovwiesevwa, and that of Ughelli South, were briefed on the challenges in the health facilities the free malaria treatment is taking place in their local governments. They noted the challenges and said efforts would be made by the Chairmen of the Councils to address some of the challenges so that the programme would not be interrupted.
Other officers on the team of ACOMIN were Mr. Peter Idono, Mrs. Rachael Misan-Ruppee, Hon. Peter Anighoro, Mr. Daniel Okerekutu, Ms Akpan Afonime, Mr. Godwin Ebieden, and Chief Duke Chris.