Dr Faisal Shuaib
With an efficient healthcare delivery that ensures citizens’ rapid access to critical and emergency Primary Health Care (PHC) services, Nigeria’s fragile system is swiftly mutating to a robust one while struggling like every other country across the globe to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I participated in a recent retreat organized by Image Merchants Promotions Ltd (IMPR), publishers of PRNigeria and Economic Confidential, in conjunction with the Wole Soyinka Institute for Investigative Journalism and MacArthur Foundation.
During the training, celebrated journalist, Yusuf Alli, took us on ‘Investigative Reporting in the Digital Age’. He complained about media’s less attention on the health sector and called for a robust coverage for awareness.
While there are issues that need to be addressed, there are individuals, both in government and the private sector, who are breaking barriers and defying odds to fix the rot and bring the nation’s health sector at par with advanced countries. One of them is Dr Faisal Shuaib.
Under his watch, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has established terrains through medical intelligence to revive the healthcare system – having suffered from the pandemic – to ensure that at least 70 percent of Nigerians including those with underlying health challenges are fully vaccinated.
As the World Health Day is celebrated annually in accordance with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) aim to discuss health-related issues, it is important to recognize Dr Shuaib’s unwavering effort to ensure that the economy is focused more on the wellbeing of citizens. The WHO certified Nigeria polio-free in 2020 after he assumed office.
The NPHCDA is ensuring that cities are liveable, that people have control over their health, and that Nigeria, Africa’s biggest entity, pulls through COVID-19 and a polluted planet where diseases like cancer, asthma, heart diseases among others are rapidly increasing.
The agency has done a lot of work in healthcare revitalization, immunization for a polio-free country and containing the spread of the pandemic. It has set a historic record towards stimulating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 by ensuring healthy living of all citizens.
A WHO report revealed that for every 10,000 persons in Nigeria, there are four doctors available to treat or attend to them. That is a ratio of 4:10,000 as against the global standard doctor-patient ratio of 1:600.
Shuaib plans to transform the under-resourced system in Nigeria by leveraging private sector, international agencies and government collaborations. This strategy, which seeks to remodel the PHC system by 2030, would not only reverse the besetting national challenges but also revamp the system for future generations.
With the private sector’s partnership with the government and other development partners to ensure that the funding gap of about N1.4trillion required to standardize PHC Centres is realized, Nigerians will enjoy qualitative, accessible and affordable services.
The private sector already kicked off its initiative to adopt one PHC centre in all 774 Local Government Areas. By 2030, Nigeria will be able to compete globally on standardized PHC Centres.
There is now record of 100% daily vaccinations. According to a January report, the daily vaccine uptake doubled to 200,000 doses in December 2021 and January 2022. This is an indication of NPHCDA’s resolve to curb public health infodemic resulting from Fake News and misinformation narratives.
Usman Bello Balarabe writes from Kofar Dukawuya, Kano.