The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) has revealed plans to engage at least 100,000 health workers under the Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Services (CHIPS) programme.
The Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, who disclosed this on Tuesday in Kaduna State, said the plan was aimed at reducing the high rate of maternal and child deaths in the country.
Addressing a meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders’ Committee on Primary Healthcare Delivery, he stressed that the deployment of healthcare agents to rural communities became necessary as Nigeria loses about one million women and children to preventable medical conditions annually.
Dr Shuaib blamed the deaths on the absence of trained medical personnel and adequate facilities in the affected communities.
The meeting was convened to review the progress made in the reduction of child and maternal deaths in 2017, and to develop high priority intervention in rural communities in 2018.
Part of the strategies agreed at the gathering was to adopt a community-based programme where individuals with basic criteria would be trained and deployed to attend to basic medical needs of the people in their communities.
The NPHCDA boss informed the committee that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that the programme should be held in every state of the federation.
“We have a total of almost 10,000 wards in Nigeria and by calculations, we would be getting nearly 200,000 CHIP agents spread across Nigeria and this would be the largest aggregations of community health workers anywhere in Africa,” he said.
“Every year, up to a million women and children under five (years) die from the totally preventable cause; our women die during pregnancy and our kids are dying from preventable courses such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and these deaths happen before individuals get to the clinic or any health facility.
“These CHIP agents will be living and working in these communities to find out how community members are doing and where people are found to be sick, they can diagnose and give free medication to the community members,” he added.
On his part, the deputy chairman of the committee Mr Samila Mera decried the high rate of maternal and newborn deaths as a national tragedy which requires concerted effort to tackle.
He, however, assured Dr Shuaib that the traditional institution would key into the government’s initiative, in order to reduce the burden of such avoidable calamities on their people.