The Nigerian government on Monday launched the Community-based Health Research, Innovative-training and Services Programme (CRISP) as part of efforts to bridge workforce gaps across Primary Health Centres (PHC) in the country.
Speaking at the launch, Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, said the initiative is timely, saying no health facility can function properly without adequate skilled workers.
Mr Osinbajo, represented by the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, said no country could boast of effective healthcare delivery without adequate and well-distributed human resources.
“For this reason, I think there is no better way to tackle the challenges of health care delivery in Nigeria than to close the gaps in the equitable availability of skilled health workers in our PHC facilities; this can be achieved by a creative measure such as the CRISP,” he said.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, said CRISP seeks to address the unequal distribution of skilled health workers among PHC facilities in the country.
Mr Shuaib said CRISP aims to leverage the rural posting of resident doctors to support PHC development in partnership with Teaching Hospitals, Federal Medical Centres (FMCs), State Primary Health Care Boards, Local Government Health Authorities, and communities.
He said the intervention focuses explicitly on increasing, retaining, and improving the quality, competency, and distribution of a committed PHC workforce, including facility outreach and community-based health workers.
Mr Shuaib said: “This will be achieved through effective management supervision, appropriate compensation, and the recruitment and deployment of Human Resources for Health, such as medical doctors, midwives, nurses, and Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs), to prioritise PHC facilities nationwide.”
He said the implementation of CRISP would be phased across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), adding that the funding “will come from the government, supported by development partners, philanthropists, and other stakeholders.”
Mr Osinbajo said although Nigeria makes up only two per cent of the world’s population, it accounts for 14 per cent of the maternal death burden globally.
He said Africa’s most populous nation loses 2,500 children under five every day due to largely preventable causes, including the lack of services that skilled birth attendants could provide.
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“It is of interest that 80 per cent of these deaths occur in PHCs and at community levels,” he said.
The Vice President said this justifies the need for urgent actions to be taken to implement CRISP to address this situation.
He reiterated that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is passionate about interventions that would help improve Nigerians’ health and well-being.
“This initiative will not only make skilled health workers from our teaching hospitals and FMCs available to offer services in our PHCs but will also be leveraged to ensure capacity transfer to and mentorship of PHC workers as well as promotion of best practices in community health,” he said.
Mr Osinbajo said the effective implementation of this initiative would help to fast-track the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and reduce maternal and child mortalities in the country.
In his remark, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the initiative was one of the programmatic ways of achieving the first of the interrelated four-point agenda on PHC transformation in the country.
Mr Ehanire said CRISP is a partnership between the NPHCDA, tertiary teaching hospitals, FMCs, State Primary Health Care Boards, LGAs, and the communities to support PHC development.
He said CRISP would leverage the teaching hospitals and FMCs to pull together skilled healthcare workers to PHCs in the communities where they would routinely provide services and mentorship, as well as build the capacity of the health workers.
He said the initiative was carefully designed to be helpful in the realisation of the government’s vision of UHC.
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