As part of approaches aimed at ensuring effective and efficient health service delivery in the State, health care partners are seeking collaborations with the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency for equitable vaccines distributions.
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) team lead, Dr Abujo Kalajuo made the disclosure in Calabar during a courtesy visit to the Director General of the Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Janet Ekpenyong, noting that such intervention will put an end to vaccine hesitancy and stock out in the state.
He said building an effective supply and distribution chain in local government areas will promote prompt and timely access to various vaccines and present them to Cross Riverians in their most active state.
He further maintained that all health care partners ought to collaborate with willing government agencies and states to ensure that a deliberate mechanism is implemented for all facilities to be covered as he commended His Excellency, Sen (Prof) Ben Ayade for his investment in the health sector and ensuring vaccine equity in the state. He also applauded the state for being flexible and adjusting to partnership demand for the benefit of the state.
In her response, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong felicitated with the group for the visit, noting that the state is always willing and ready to partner with groups for the overall interest of the state and nation.
Dr Ekpenyong disclosed that the state boast of a standard and centralized cold chain facility in Calabar metropolis where vaccines are stored in their most potent form.
She also noted that there are zonal cold chain facilities in Ikom to carter for those in the Central Senatorial District and Ogoja store for those in the Northern District with mini cold chain facilities in all 18 local government areas of the state which are well managed and maintained.
She, therefore, requested the group’s support towards vaccines carriers and refrigerators for baking ice packs to maintain vaccine potency all the way to the last mile, adding that with the epileptic power supply in the country, the state is faced with seeking more expensive alternatives to ensure viability of vaccines all year round.
“As a state we are committed to vaccine safety, efficacy and equitable distribution, as we have our cold chain well functional here in Calabar, and other zonal cold chain stores for easy access by local government areas, we need the refrigerators to make sure our vaccines remain potent.”
She also informed the team on the plans of the state to integrate services and seek their support to leverage on available community volunteers to serve as CHIPS Agents, and as well as intimate them on the recently launched CHIPS programme and the Basic Health Care Provision Fund Programme.
“The CHIPS Agents will help us ensure we provide integrated services including OBR, OPV, HIV, Covid-19, etc and ensure there is demand creation for facility utilization, especially for women during pregnancy and delivery.
Some of our major challenges are issues of data collection after vaccination, we seek assistance in the areas of data reconciliation, health workers and volunteers training, ultra cold chain equipment installation to manage the quantity and quality of vaccines”.
The DG further requested USAID to support the state with HIV testing kits as lots of pregnant women were usually not tested when they visited facilities for ANC, while adding that the state has made progress in the fight against HIV/AIDs and it will be important to sustain the gains.
Another respondent from the USAID team, Mr. Obianeri Victor (PMS – L & SC), acknowledged the Agency, noting that it has always been the first point of call for health care service delivery and emergencies in the event of disease outbreak.
He affirmed that PHCs must be well equipped and vaccines put in place and stored properly.
Also speaking, a Deputy Director in the Agency and HIV/AIDs focal person, Mrs. Ekaette Ekpenyong, sought for support in providing HIV testing kits and help in pushing of vaccines to all LGAs, especially in hard to reach areas.
Mrs. Utiung, the Nutrition Focal Person also added that nutritional supplement should be made available in all PHCs as it concerns orphan and vulnerable children and pregnant women as good nutrition leads to good health and growth.
Also in attendance were Director, Community and Family Health SPHCDA, Mrs Sally Enyim, Programme Officers and Implementing Partners like Heartland Alliance, FHI 360, Breakthrough Action, CCRN, and others who in their contributions added a plus to the way forward of the State Health sector.