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Maternal Mortality Rate Has Drastically Reduced Under Gov. Ishaku Administration – Dr. Vakkia, Health Commissioner

Dr Innocent Vakkai is the Taraba State Commissioner of Health, in this interview with Taraba Truth and Fact said the Governor Ishaku administration places special premium on      pregnant women and nursing mothers in the state Dr Vakkai who is the  Chairman of the Covid-19 State Technical Committee explained how the state was able to mitigate the spread of the novel corona virus in the state.




The state has been able to manage the spread of Covid-19 effectively, how were you able to achieve this?

As you are aware COVID-19 is a pandemic that affected so many countries in the world including our country. In Nigeria it affected virtuly all the states including Taraba state. If you noticed we initially did not record any case immediately the disease entered the country but when we intercepted about 130 travelers coming into Taraba from Bauchi, Yobe and Borno and we quarantine them and followed all the guidelines as directed by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, NCDC took their samples and sent it to Abuja NCDC laboratory and about eight of them returned positive and they were our index cases. And after fourteen days in quarantine which is the incubation period for the disease, we sent another sample to the NCDC and some of them became positive which brings it to total of 15 confirmed cases, while we recorded another two which makes it 17 cases in total and we are able to manage them successfully and when we sent the sample of the 17 cases to NCDC, they all returned negative after their treatment protocols and we thereby effect their discharge.

Throughout last week, Taraba was with zero case of active COVID-19 case and not until three days ago that we recorded another confirmed case who was among the 88 Almajiris repatriated from Nasarawa state. So, when we did the initial test for the Almajiris, one among them was positive and we took the person to one of our isolation centers for treatment and quarantine the remaining Almajiris for fourteen days and after 14 days, we send another sample and when the result came back the initial Almajiris that was positive became negative and another one returned positive and currently being treated in one of the isolation centers.

So, the committee members, the commissioner of health and member representing Gassol in the House of Assembly accompanied the Almajiris and took them to their parents, some to the traditional rulers in the local governments who are from there handed back to their parents or guardians as the case may be. So, we are able to effectively mitigate the spread of the virus because of the proactive emergency response by the Darius Ishaku-led state government. You know when the coronavirus came to Nigeria in March through an Italian man who came to Lagos and went to Ogun state, the Governor acting on the information immediately constituted a committee and come up with a lockdown policy with the exception of Thursday and Wednesday so that people can have access to the market and buy food stuffs and then encourage the use of face masks, hand sanitizers and social distancing based on the advice of the technical committee and also advocated against congregation for any form of social or religious gatherings. So we also ensure that we enforce these policies as the technical committee through the enforcement team of the committee and we also went on aggressive public awareness campaign and ensure travelers into the state are quarantine and tested and ensure people that have symptoms like dry cough, difficulty in breathings and all other COVID-19 symptoms are tested through temperature checks and all other necessary procedures to ascertain their status. So, those are the measures we took and that is how we are able to mitigate and maintain the spread of virus in Taraba State.

As it is now, we have only one active case of COVID-19 in the state. Previously we had one too which later tested negative before this current one and all of the Almajiris have been sent to their parents and guardians as the case may be. So, we are only managing a single case as I speak to you now in Taraba State.

Governor Ishaku administration has prioritize quality health delivery in its rescue agenda, how has your Ministry been able to deliver on this mandate?

As you are aware, I was commissioner of health in his first tenure between 2015-2019 and he duly appointed me again. So, we have achieved a lot in the health sector under the current administration headed by Governor Darius Ishaku and we are able to innovate, equip the General Hospital, Wukari, which was last renovated in 1961 and we did the same for Gembu and we are just waiting to commission the one in Gembu because we have commissioned that of Wukari and same for Bambur which is also yet to be commissioned. And then if you look at the distribution of these projects, they are based on each senatorial zone. Now we want to do extend the projects according to senatorial zone and we are going pick Zing in the northern zone, Bali in the central zone and Donga in the southern zone and they will be renovated and equipped and we will even do more depending on the availability of resources.

Apart from that, the College of Nursing before the advent of Ishaku's administration was closed for 10 years as at 2015 but we are able to secure accreditation for the college of nursing and it was open for admission and now we have graduated over 100 nurses last year which had not happened in the last 16 years or thereabouts and there are students that will still graduate this year and subsequent years.

In terms of manpower, we have human resources for health and we've employed over two hundred nurses and we engage child nurses on contract basis and we have huge gap in terms of nurses in our hospitals before and we have also employed medical doctors and officers and medical consultants. In those days, before the administration of Darius Ishaku, we only have about four medical consultants in the state capital but as I am speaking with you, we have over four consultant in General Hospital, Wukari as we commissioned Wukari and Bambur, we are going to have consultants there too and as we renovate Zing, Bali and Donga, we are going to have consultants there too and that's about the human resources in the health sector.

Again, Darius Ishaku has paid all the counterparts funding for polio immunization to help eradicate polio in the state and he also realized we have high prevalence of HIV in the state and he went in partnership with agencies to ensure treatments and also saw to the establishment of Taraba State Community Insurance Scheme so as to help the downtrodden to access health care, so in a nutshell, I will say the administration has achieved tremendously in the health sector. Also, it was in his administration that we achieved the One million lives project that has helped improved the indices of the maternal and child health in the state that actually led to the state being rated number 10 in terms of improvement on maternal and child health care in the whole country. So, all these are successes recorded by the Governor Ishaku administration.

What is your ministry doing to ensure that everybody in the state has access to quality health services particularly those in the rural villages?

Yes, you can see that a primary health centers are found in every ward and if you have them in place in every ward, that is where rural people are accessing health care and that is why we have N-SHIP projects.

What is the current maternal mortality rate in the state and how has this improved under your watch and Governor Ishaku administration?

Yes, the Governor was also proactive in reducing maternal mortality rate and that was why he was able to attract partnership with the TY  Danjuma Foundation for the construction of Ultra-Modern Maternity Center in Wukari in helping to reduce maternal deaths and during his administration, we got the FG permission to access the World Bank funding to save one million lives and all these programme are geared towards reducing the rate. So, the maternal mortality issues have reduced drastically because of the Governor Ishaku's administration to health delivery particularly pregnant women and nursing mothers.

With all these achievements, what is your advice for the people of Taraba State?

Our advice for the people of Taraba State is to give maximum cooperation to the Governor Darius Ishaku administration because if given maximum cooperation that is when he will be able to give to the people the dividends of democracy, peace and development because if you don't cooperate with a leader, it will be hard for such leader to achieve all these. Just like he used to say that 'Give me peace, I will give you development'. So, I called on our people to give us maximum cooperation so that we can achieve.

Yes, sometimes people will criticize and they have the right to do so but we want it to be constructive criticisms and not just a negative criticism geared at pulling down someone or a leader or perceived political enemies. The criticism expected from the people are constructive which will push us into doing what is right and make corrections on where we have gone wrong and not just criticism for its sake. We called on the people to cooperate and support the administration for the progress and betterment of the state.

 


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