FG, WHO move to strengthen FCTA’s capacity to respond to health emergencies

Group photograph of participants during a Scooping Mission on Strengthening and Utilising Response Groups for Emergencies (SURGE) in the Federal Capital Territory on Monday.
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By Philip Yatai

The Federal Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have taken steps to strengthen the capacity of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to respond to health emergencies effectively.

Mr Malan Haruna, acting Secretary of Health, Health, and Human Services Secretariat (HHSS), FCTA, stated this during a meeting organised by the HHSS on Monday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was tagged, “Scooping Mission on Strengthening and Utilising Response Groups for Emergencies (SURGE) in the Federal Capital Territory”.

Haruna said that the goal of the scooping mission was to strengthen the ability of the FCTA to respond effectively to public health emergencies.

“We have seen our inadequacies over the years, especially during the recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in terms of our ability to respond to the pandemic.

“We have learned from that experience, and we are trying to build from it so that we will be able to respond to health emergencies in a more coordinated manner.

“The essence of the scoping mission is to look at where we have failed so we can identify the challenges and find ways to address them for a better response in the future,” he said.

He disclosed that there were 1,249 accredited health facilities made up of 814 primary health facilities and 432 secondary health facilities and three tertiary health facilities in the FCT.

He added that of the 814 primary health facilities, 580 were private facilities, while 234 were public, adding that of the 432 secondary health facilities, 409 were private while 23 were public facilities.

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Haruna said that quality and quantity of healthcare workers were still inadequate with skewed distribution towards health facilities in urban areas as against facilities in peripheral areas.

“The FCTA is making efforts to bridge the gap in human resource for health through the recruitment of medical officers, but the number remains inadequate.

“The HHSS is also collaborating with Health Workforce Management to strengthen capacity of health workers for better service delivery in the FCT.

“Also, there is a system for containment of public health emergencies including the availability of a policy and plan on disease outbreak response.

“However, there is no functional infectious diseases hospital in the FCT,” he said.

The Director Public Health, HHSS, Dr Abdulrahman Sadiq, said that the world was faced with the outbreak of diseases that became pandemics or epidemics periodically.

“This is why we must always be prepared to respond to public health emergencies,” he said.

Dr Morenike Alex-Okoh, Director Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health, said that meeting would enable the partners to set up a robust health emergency response team.

Alex-Okoh, who was represented by Dr Nse Akpan, Post Health Services in the ministry, said that the meeting was also to strengthen the capacity to respond to outbreak of any disease.

“We have learned from previous experience and saw the need to strengthen our workforce and have a robust team that can respond to any public health threat at any point in time,” he said.

Also, Dr Kumshida Balami, Coordinator, African Volunteer Corps for SURGE in Nigeria, WHO Country Office, said that the scoping mission was designed to assess the status of FCT’s capacity in response to health emergencies.

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Balami said that the activity, which would last up to July 22, would engage stakeholders in the health sector and assess their capacity to respond to emergencies.

She identified some of the challenges affecting emergency response as human resource and lack of agility among the response team, with many of them becoming fatigued during emergency response.

“Another problem is lack of motivation and short supplies of consumables needed to be able to attend to affected persons during emergencies.

“Together we will identify the gaps in emergency response and develop a roadmap with activities and timelines, responsible officers, and monitoring and evaluation framework to close the critical gaps within two years,” she said.

The coordinator said that WHO would provide a technical support digital learning platform to the FCTA for health emergency coordination.

She informed the meeting that WHO would also train in the FCT at least 80 emergency responders to dangerous situations requiring very quick response within 24 to 48 hours.

“WHO will also support the FCTA with vehicles for emergency response including supplies and consumables,” she added. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Emmanuel Yashim

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