Rivers State recorded another milestone, penultimate week, as the first and only State in the country to take health care delivery to the door step of residents. Through the Rivers State Primary Health Care Management Board (RSPHCMB), the State launched what it calls Home-Base Healthcare.
The Home-Base Healthcare is an initiative of the RSPHCMB, aimed at taking healthcare to every home in the State especially those in the rural localities. It is targeted at reducing infant and maternity mortality, as well as minor ailments that plaque many homes.
Speaking during the launching of the programme, at the Modern Primary Health Centre, Miriwanyi, Oyigbo in Oyigbo Local Government Area, the Executive Secretary of RSPHCMB, Dr (Mrs) Claribel Abam said the home based programme would ensure provision of health information and services in homes in order to promote, restore and maintain maximum health of the people.
Dr. Abam said the programme which is to ensure that health workers go from one house to the other, would help in safeguarding the health of children and mothers from common minor ailments, adding that it would also serve as preventive, promotive, therapeutic and rehabilitative measure.
The Executive Secretary also explained that the programme is expected to reduce mortality and morbidity rates in the State.
According to her, community health workers otherwise known as health vanguards have been trained by the board to visit homes in communities and to keep records of births, pregnancies and deaths, provide basic healthcare to the needy as well as rendering other services such as reading body temperatures, checking weights, monitoring disease progression and referring people to health centres.
She stated that Home-Base Healthcare is the palliative to persistent community health problems in the country, explaining that it was basically introduced to deliver healthcare to the homes of the people living in Rivers State.
While unveiling the programme, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker urged all rural communities to take advantage of the scheme to promote good health in their communities.
Dr. Parker also urged community chiefs and elders to spread the news to their people as well as enlighten them on the need to welcome community heath workers whenever they visited.
According to him, the RSPHCMB has promised to reduce the rate of women dying during childbirth by 20 per cent.This, he said, can only be achieved if people co-operate with the health workers and embrace the Home-Base Healthcare programme.
However, the Executive Chairman of RSPHCMB, Dr. Uriah S. Etawo regretted that 34 years after the declaration of Primary Healthcare by World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF in USSR, health related indicators are still poor in Nigeria.
Dr. Etawa noted that life expectancy at birth is about 50 years for women and 48 years for men in Nigeria as against 85 and 82 years respectively in Japan.
According to him, Nigeria’s infant mortality rate still stands at about 70 per 1000 live births, while under 5 mortality rate stands at 140 per 1000 live births, against 3 and 5 respectively in Japan, adding that the mortality ratio is hovering around 700 per 100,000 live births.
He explained that the concept behind the Home-Base Healthcare is to get access to the entire citizens no matter where they live. He, therefore, commended the State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi and the State Commissioner for Health for their vision towards improving healthcare services in the State.
Dr. Etawo noted that primary healthcare was identified in 1978 as the key to achieving health for all by the year 2000.
“In September 1978 when WHO/UNICEF Conference took place in Alma-Ata, USSR, it was agreed that primary healthcare is a key to achieving health for all by the year 2000 and that it should be acceptable, affordable and accessible to the community. It was meant to be promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative”, he said.
Explaining the advantages of Home-Base Healthcare, Dr Etawo said the scheme would provide opportunities for health personnel to know the health history and challenges in each family.
“Through Home-Base Healthcare scheme, the confidence in our health system will be enhanced, ailments will be discovered early and so, survival of patients will further improve”, he said.
The former UPTH Medical Director who said health education leads to healthier living, explained that follow-up of patients will be easier and their general survival will be enhanced through the programme.
He, however, said the Authority would have catchment areas for each health centre to enable it know what is happening in the community health-wise.
“This will help us capture all pregnancies and births and so enable the State attain 100% immunisation coverage”, he said.
The PHCMB had before now inaugurated Primary Healthcare Authorities in all the 23 local government areas in the State through which it advocates and mobilise health education of the people.
Established in 2010 to manage primary healthcare programmes and services in the State, RSPHCMB has been able to carry out intensive supervisory healthcare activities in the State, as well as monitoring the midwives services scheme of the Federal Government, among others.