Kwara Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Thursday flagged off the Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Services (CHIPS) programme to strengthen access to primary healthcare in the state.

“Part of the efforts at revitalising the system is demand generation for the services available within the Primary HealthCare Facilities. The careful selection and training of these 200 CHIPS and 40 Community Engagement Focal Persons will go a long way in deepening quality healthcare delivery to the remotest corners of the State,” AbdulRazaq said at the event held at the State’s Banquet Hall in Ilorin.

“As a government, we are making deliberate efforts to ensure that our Primary HealthCare facilities are able to perform their roles in meeting the healthcare demands of their immediate communities.

” To achieve this, we have embarked on massive rehabilitation and upgrade of Primary Healthcare facilities, including construction of new ones where necessary.

“We have also embarked on massive recruitments of qualified hands and trained existing ones to manage our various health facilities across the state.”

The Governor said his administration has also commenced the payment of minimum wage to various categories of workers, including health workers in the state.

“On inception of office, we paid a huge backlog of counterpart funds. We have also been able to sustain this,” he added.

“We set up a vibrant State Task force on Immunisation and PHC chaired by His Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Kwara State. The outcomes of these steps are reflecting in our health indices.”

AbdulRazaq also commended the health team in the sector, including the State Primary Health Care Development Agency led by Dr Nusirat Elelu, for their good job.

Commissioner for Health Dr Raji Rasaq explained that CHIPS programme is a great achievement and big step in establishing sustainable structures in consonance with the national health care policy direction and the policy thrust of this administration.

“The goal of CHIPs is to expand access to the underserved populations and work towards raising awareness and stimulating demand for primary health care services by the community. The role of community-based health workers residing in the community in attaining this cannot be over emphasised,” he said.

“Today, we shall therefore be joining other states in the country where a comprehensive link has been established between the primary health and various health programmes to leverage existing structures toward implementation of critical interventions for the attainment of common goals and objectives.”

Rasaq said the community workers would provide basic services in their respective communities, ultimately linking the communities with services in primary health care facilities.

The flag-off was attended by top government officials and critical partners in the health sector, including Deputy Governor Kayode Alabi, traditional rulers, development partners, as well as health workers.

Executive Secretary of Kwara State Primary Healthcare Development Agency Dr Nusirat Elelu said the state is trying to re-imagine Primary Healthcare to a fit-for purpose PHC as envisioned by Governor AbdulRazaq who has shown unprecedented commitment and leadership in revamping the PHC system in the state.

“Everyday Nigeria loses about 2,300 under-five children. Community-based programme is the most effective option to reduce mortality and the least expensive presently available,” she said.

“One of the community based interventions is the CHIPS with the goal of contributing to maternal and child morbidity and mortality by creating demands for and equitably increasing access to essential primary health care services.”

Representatives of WHO, UNICEF, AFENET, Rotary International and other development partners commended AbdulRazaq administration for the huge investment in the health sector which have brought positive indices to the sector within the last three years.

Kwara Coordinator World Health Organisation Saliu Abdullahi said: “We at WHO are very much aware of your laudable programmes to the people of Kwara State especially in the area of disease prevention and outbreak responses.

“We are equally aware of giant strides your government has made by improving the state health indices from where it was to the current state by making available the needed resources.

“We are aware that your government has renovated more than 100 health facilities and you have also employed more than 200 health workers.”

Representative of UNICEF Mobolaji Abdulkadir said: “UNICEF supports the state in the area of vaccine logistics and special mobilisation to make sure that none of our children come down with vaccine derivable diseases. I want to assure you of UNICEF’s continued support to Kwara State.”