FG, WHO agrees to reinforce health emergency programmes in the northeast after 13th end-term joint operational review
Maiduguri – 4 December, 2023 - The World Health Organization (WHO) has restated its commitment to continually provide leadership and coordination to support the government in reaching the underserved and vulnerable populations in northeast Nigeria with essential health services.
The WHO Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, gave the assurance during his welcome remark at the recently concluded 13th Joint Operational Review (JOR) held in Yola, Adamawa State, from 27 to 29 November 2023.
On a sideline event, Dr Mulombo, in an interview with the media stressed that the 13th JOR assists in identifying opportunities and assessing the impact of WHO’s work in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states.
Contrary to reports in the dailies quoting Dr Mulombo as decrying the increasing rate of Tuberculosis cases in Borno state, he had advocated for the strengthening of Tuberculosis case detection, reporting and treatment to improve the low TB detection and treatment rate in the state.
‘Everyone is entitled to have access to basic health services, and the WHO is committed to providing, promoting, and protecting health, including to the underserved affected by humanitarian crises. WHO will be working closely with the Borno state government to enhance the detection and treatment rate of tuberculosis in the state, said Dr Mulombo.
In the intervening time, the primary objective of the JOR is to identify and document the best practices, gaps, challenges and lessons learned during the 2023 response to humanitarian emergencies in the BAY states to further prioritize efforts and resources of WHO and partners to deliver results and align with up-to-date, evidence-based plans.
Additionally, the JOR aims to support the BAY states in developing operational strategies for 2024, in line with the health challenges in the region.
In her remarks, the Director of Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Chukwuma Anyaike, represented by Mrs Anthonia Chukwuemeka, commended WHO for championing health for all agenda and pushing for Nigeria to attain Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Mrs Chukwuemeka said “that the JOR will enhance the humanitarian response in the BAY states to reach the underserved populations with essential health services”
Recall that WHO has been supporting the BAY states to respond to the protracted humanitarian crisis which has negatively impacted public health, putting intense pressure on healthcare services in the affected communities.
At the end of the meeting, some recommendations made included a call for continued implementation of lifesaving interventions including utilizing local structures to reach underserved populations, the development of a multi-hazard plan with a focus on preparedness, strengthening program integration to improve case detection and treatment of tuberculosis, building resilience, and ensuring the reliability of data emanating from the BAY states.
Likewise, concerns were raised about the dwindling humanitarian funds from national and international fronts. This, they agree is interfering with the provision of extensive health emergency response in the affected states.
The meeting brought together key stakeholders from the Federal and concerned State Ministries of Health, health agencies, UN agencies, public health experts and partners working in the BAY states.
According to the 2023 humanitarian response plan, approximately 5,757,483 people in the region are requiring health interventions. The health sector is targeting 4,285,848 persons with 621,939 persons in IDP camps, 837,285 out of camps, 1,485,066 returnees, and 1,341,558 persons living in host communities, with life-saving health services.
Meanwhile, the JOR is part of WHO's core internal strategy to assess its health emergency programmes to improve current standards and develop a roadmap for 2024 interventions.