UNICEF on Thursday said about 875,363 children in Kebbi benefited from the UNICEF-EU high impact lifesaving health and nutrition services for children under five years in 2019.
UNICEF’s Health Specialist, Sokoto Field Office, Dr Danjuma Nehemiah, made the disclosure to journalists in Sokoto.
Nehemiah said that the number represented 93 percent of the 934,319 children targeted for the year, under the Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) project.
According to him, the project is being funded by EU and implemented by UNICEF to strengthen primary health care and community resilience for improved maternal, newborn, child health and nutrition.
He said that the beneficiaries were attended to in health facilities and communities through the MNCHN outreach programme for Hard-to-Reach (HTR) areas and Integrated Community Case Management programme.
Nehemiah said that the outreach programme was designed for children below five years in 1,050 communities in the state.
“A five-member team was assigned to every Local Government Area, and required to visit 50 communities with the highest number of children under five years in three months.
“They provided services such as immunisation, birth registration, nutrition services, Antenatal Care and other health services that are crucial for child survival and development.
“The outreach programme was complemented by ICCM, designed to provide malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea services to children under five years at their doorsteps, to prevent them from dying from such preventable diseases,” he said.
He said that the state recorded low indices of ANC attendance and high home deliveries, adding that the problems were being compounded by low skilled birth attendants in health facilities.
Nehemiah said that during the Minimum Service Package assessment to help the state know what it has in terms of human resource for health, 11,000 people showed up for documentation.
The health specialist said efforts were being made to bridge the gap in health services for pregnant women and lactating mothers in the state.
“As a short-term solution, UNICEF and EU, supported the state to close some of the gaps by engaging some midwives and community health extension workers.
“They provide healthcare services in four high burden LGAs namely Argungu, Birnin Kebbi, Fakai and Jega, while we work with health training institutions to produce healthcare workers for the state as a long-term solution.
“We equally helped to put a robust coordination mechanism and equally helped the state to develop a five-year Strategic Health Development Plan and the annual operational plans for implementation,’’ he said.
Malam Ibrhaim Abubakar, District Head of Jandutse, Jega Local Government Area,said that the outreach programme was saving the life of children under five years in the state.
Abubakar thanked the MNHCN project for providing healthcare services to children at their doorsteps through the ICCM and HTR programme.
Some heads of health facilities supported with Skilled Birth Attendants (SBA) said that the intervention was encouraging pregnant women to deliver in health centres.
Mr Abubakar Saidu, Facility In-Charge, Primary Health Care, Kimba, Jega Local Government Area, said that the support had increased delivery in the facility from zero to between 10 and 20 monthly.
Mr Aliyu Usman, the Facility Head of Gindi Kermi PHC, said that the presence of skilled workers in the facility had also increased uptake of health services in the facility.