Health agency targets difficult terrain in Cross River

Governor Ben Ayade addressing the Cross River State Head of Service, Mr. Ekpenyong Henshaw

The Primary Health Care Development Agency in Cross River says its target for 2017 is to provide improved basic healthcare services in hard to reach areas of the State.

Dr Beta Edu, Director-General, Cross River Primary Health Care Development Agency (CRSPHDA), stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Calabar on Friday.

According to her, the agency will equally be putting more emphasis on ensuring that women delivered with skilled birth attendants and reduce the number of children suffering from malnutrition.

Edu said: “The CRSPHDA is putting a lot of focus on our hard to reach areas. We are trying to ensure that they can have access to basic healthcare services.

“The government would be employing more workers to be able to deliver quality health services at that level.

Other basic amenities that would positively contribute to health and nutrition in these communities would be looked into by government.

“Specifically, we would be reaching all the hard to reach areas with Vitamin A supplementation and some nutrients supplementation across the state.

“This is to reduce the number of children suffering from malnutrition and deficiencies in specific nutrients.

“For us this year, it is basically about reaching those who have not been reached, taking healthcare to the hinterlands, to the hard to reach areas; and reducing malnutrition and maternal and child mortality.

“We would equally be putting more emphasis on ensuring that women deliver with skilled birth attendants and that women who are pregnant are tested for HIV.’

She said that the agency was poised to ensure that pregnant women who tested positive to HIV do not transmit the virus to their unborn children.

“At the level of the state, the government is poised to achieve at least 50 health centres in 50 wards out of the 196 wards. We had done five last year. We want to do 50 this year.

“We are not building new ones, but we are renovating, equipping and recruiting the right mix of staff.

“We will ensure that such staff offered different services to our people to ensure that the general population remains healthy and our life span is increased’’, she said.

According to Edu, the state currently has about 447 hard to reach communities and 1014 Primary healthcare centres.

She said: “They are hard to reach because you have to go by water, or go through roads that sometime can only be assessed on foot.

“They are hard to reach because their terrain is very bad, either mountainous or deep down in the valley like Belekete in Obanliku council area.

“We have 1014 PHCs in the state. We  are not going to work on 1014. We have decided that we are going to take up one in each ward.

“That one would act as the hub for every other PHCs in that area. We are working on having 196 primary healthcare centres, one in each ward, and within that 196, eighteen of them would be comprehensive health centres.’’

She said Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River had employed 18 medical doctors for the rural communities in the state with mouth-watering incentives.

One of the things the governor succeeded in doing last year was to employ 18 medical doctors for the rural areas, one in each local government area.

“Each of these doctors is paid way higher than their colleagues in Calabar or in the General Hospital. They are given a car, Ford Rangers, a house.

“So, all of these are done as incentives and they have an ambulance attached to them. And so many other incentives’’, she said.