By Sunday Oyinloye
As Europe battles second wave of corona virus with anxiety in other parts of the world, a Non-Governmental Organisation in Nigeria, International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) has developed Advocacy Toolkit on COVID-19 and presented same to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA)
The Toolkit was developed on behalf of Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON) for Health Sector Reform Coalition (HSRC) in collaboration with Centre for Health Sciences Training, Research and Development (CHESTRAD) and Medport. The funding was done by MacArthur Foundation through Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED).
Presenting the Toolkit to the Executive Director /CEO of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director of ISMPH, Moji Makanjuola said her team made NPHCDA the first port of call because Primary Health Care facility is always the first place to visit by any Nigerian who wants to access healthcare
On why her organization developed the Advocacy Toolkit, the veteran Journalist said “it was prepared for our own wellbeing; some Nigerians still don’t observe COVID-19 protocols. God has been helping Nigeria, but the Toolkit is important as we work hard not to have another spike”
She said further: “NPHCDA is the first institution we are bringing the Toolkit to, and we hope it can be adapted beyond COVID-19. We believe this is what we all can put into practice. ISMPH is available to work with you. The messages in the Toolkit are with human face so that Nigerians can know that they too have responsibility to prevent the spread of the virus”
While commending the agency on the eradication of wild polio in Nigeria, Makanjuola revealed how she traveled severally with Faisal in the course of polio eradication
According to her, a lot of milestones she made as journalist occurred within the context of the NPHCDA adding that the Toolkit presentation was like home coming for her.
The ISMPH Executive Director who also commended the transformation in the agency disclosed that the media is an integral part of public health.
“Whatever is done by the agency has to be disseminated to the public” she said.
Still talking about the importance of advocacy, Makanjuola recounted how she took some Journalists to Roguwa community in Nasarawa State and how they saw a primary healthcare center facility in a dilapidated form with the children in the community malnourished, and the road leading to the village in terrible state.
Her words” The sad experience made me to write the ED of NPHCDA that i wanted to take health mission to Roguwa and he promised to assist. Today, the community has a new health centre and the state government has tarred the road leading to the village from Keffi highway”
In her remarks, the Director of Advocacy, and Communications of NPHCDA, Damisa Eunice commended ISMPH for developing the Toolkit and the collaboration it had with other organisations to come out with the kit.
According to her, what ISMPH has done is one of the things needed for advocacy “because advocacy is more than just a courtesy call. This Toolkit is a model of how advocacy should be conducted and the beauty of it is the monitoring and evaluation component. The Advocacy Toolkit is useful for us, especially our foot soldiers (states). The Toolkit will be useful for them to prevent community transmission of corona virus”
Receiving the Toolkits, the Executive Director/CEO of NPHCDA Dr. Faisal Shuaib commended Moji Makanjuola for her role in the wild polio eradication in Nigeria.
His words” There is no doubt in our minds that you are one of the heroes of the wild polio eradication journey and it’s amazing that after all the sacrifices you made in the area of polio eradication, you still continue in the efforts of Nigeria’s drive to eliminate COVID-19. We are also aware of your efforts on nutrition and other spheres of public health.
“This advocacy Toolkit is timely in supporting all the works we have been doing around COVID 19. It is also coming at a time when it seems there is complacency around COVID-19 even as we see second spite especially in Europe; we pray and hope we will not experience such in Nigeria. We hope this Toolkit will help in inclusiveness, integration and alignment as well as drive advocacy around the pandemic.
‘’ We shall go through this document, dissect it and use it to enhance our work around covid19 and I hope this document will impact positively, we will collaborate with you especially in areas where you have comparative advantage”.
Faisal made case for better funding of NPHCDA .He disclosed that a lot of resources had been invested on polio eradication in the last 30 years which affected other areas.
The experience garnered from wild polio eradication, the Executive Secretary noted could be used to strengthen the primary healthcare system in Nigeria to such a level where the facilities will have 24 hour power supply, water, and where health centres could run effectively round the clock.
According to him,” civil society organisations should begin to sensitize Nigerians around the fact that the primary health system needs to be fixed. We have to realise that for us to get standard primary healthcare system, we have to invest money; it requires domestic resources from the federal government and the private sector. We want to get to a stage where our primary healthcare facilities will be able to deliver effectively”