Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Health has launched the pro-poor community health project.
The Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina disclosed this at the launching of the project on Wednesday, adding that the scheme would strengthen outreach services in communities and encouraging members of the community to take advantage of health care services provided at the primary health centers (PHCs) close to them.
According to her, the pro-poor community health project sponsored by JICA commenced in year 2014 and expected to run through year 2018 adding that the aim is to expand and improve the concept of universal health coverage, reduce child morbidity and mortality and improve maternal health.
She added that the project which is presently being implemented in Eti-Osa LGA is targeted at poor communities where lack of finance, poor accessibility to health services and limited knowledge about health services amongst others is inhibiting unfettered access to health services.
The communities to benefit from the project, according to Adeshina in Eti-Osa LGA, include Ikota, Bambo, Ebute, Ajiran, Jaknde, ebeute-Ikate amongst others and that the implementation of the project will include the administration of questionnaires to find out the challenges confronting residents of the area especially women of child bearing age in having to access to health services in the community especially at the PHC with the aim of surmounting these challenges.
Decrying the low patronage at the PHC level, the Special Adviser urged residents of the area to take advantage of various health services provided at the PHCs stressing the PHCs have been revitalized to provide mostly free and affordable services adding that the State government believes that primary healthcare system is the bedrock of any health system.
She gave kudos to JICA for sustaining its commitment in assisting the State government in the areas of improving maternal and child health indices and reducing maternal and child morbidity and mortality in line with MDGs four and five.
Also Speaking, the Chief Resident Representative of JICA, Mr. Hirotaka Nakamura noted that JICA’s activities in the health sector is hinged on maternal, newborn and child health and strengthening the health system in Nigeria adding that the agency’s activities is evident by past projects which include the project for improvement of maternal, newborn and child health from 2010 to 2014.
He noted that the first phase of JICA health project was aimed at providing intervention to health care providers through midwifery skill trainings on antenatal care, delivery management, and training on activities to improve operating environment which aims to promote the efficiency of routine works conducted at target PHCs.
Hirotaka added that the phase also aim at providing intervention to community through capacity building for ward health committee, health education for male and community needs assessment, stressing that one of the outcomes of the first phase revealed that more women had enrolled for antenatal care adding however that a number of women still prefer to deliver at home rather than health facilities.
“It is against this background that the current phase of the project focuses on encouraging members of the community to take advantage of the health care services provided at the primary health centres close to each community”, he said.
Hirotaka expressed optimism that access could be achieved by strengthening outreach services in communities, increasing awareness about health and environmental health in community, initiating activities that help community members engage in matters concerning their health and mapping out possible solutions to challenges to access health care services and strengthen capacity of health care providers.
He solicits the supports of the local government authority and community leaders for successful implementation of the project adding that cooperation and understanding for the project will no doubt ensure the effort of health workers will be worth a lot and yield the desired result.