VHWs improve access to Mother-Child health care in Gombe

Rebecca Mu’azu, Gombe

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The Village Health Workers Project in Gombe state has been commended for improving access to Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health, MNCH, services by women in the state.

The Village Health Workers project is the fulcrum of the Maternal Neonatal and Child Health project co-funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, led by the Gombe State Government through the Gombe State Primary Health Care Development Agency with technical support from the Society for Family Health.

The project is the first Government led and owned village health workers programme in Nigeria.

It is implemented in 57 priority wards of eleven local government areas  in Gombe State.

Speaking during the Dissemination of the MNCH intervention achievements in Gombe, the Head of the MNCH, Bolanle Oyebola said,

The scheme improved access to MNCH services, bridged gaps in Human Resource for Health, especially at the Primary Health care Centres, increased commodity availability, health promotion and effective behaviour change at community, PHC and Government levels.”

Oyebola said in the past, high fertility rate and low level of institutional births were the leading causes of high mortality rates in Gombe State.

She said the health sector was limited in its response to the undesirable trend in Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health due to factors such as weak health systems, financial and cultural barriers and weakened community accountability structures.

According to her, there are other factors, which include poor health seeking behaviour, uneven infrastructure development and functionality, poor quality of care supply chain management challenges, shortages in skilled providers at the facility level in rural and poorer areas’ public facilities.

Oyebola said before the commencement of the project in 2009 and redefined over the years, child delivery at home attended by Traditional Birth Attendants was the norm and widely practiced in Gombe communities.

In the mean time, the Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, explained that his Government was ready to sustain the Village Health Workers project through the timely release of funds, so that the state could reap the maximum benefit.

He said the 57 per cent coverage of the project in the state was not adequate and so wanted it to cover all the 114 wards of the States.

Governor Yahaya also called on other Non Governmental Organisations to seek for areas of intervention, because he believed that through collaboration with international organizations, the poor indices recorded would be corrected.

Ime Njoku