WHO intends to ensure community involvement in the various community health interventions by identifying and engaging with community leaders, especially during the planning stage of every intervention

ABUJA, Nigeria, March 13, 2023/ — As displaced residents and host communities in Yobe state, begin rebuilding their lives, the World Health Organization (WHO) supports the government to re-strategize and scale up its humanitarian health interventions. The objective is to ensure community inclusivity for all the people of the state.

Yobe is one of the three BAY states (Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe) in northeast Nigeria where WHO has been supporting the government to resolve health challenges, improve the quality of life, and enable affected people to return to normalcy and live safely with dignity. 

“The sensitization activities carried out by WHO-supported mobile teams in our communities have raised awareness about the importance of a healthy community. They support health education, provide routine immunization services and administer malaria drugs. Most especially, delivery to our children and intervention during outbreaks of diseases like cholera and measles.

We now understand that for a community to remain healthy, everyone needs to be involved. We are glad that WHO and the government are involving us in the planning, coordination, and implementation of health interventions in our communities,” says Mallam Mutti Layin Hassan Yusuf, a resident of Gwange Village. 

“Involving community leaders in the planning and implementation of health interventions will enable us to tailor the response to suit the needs of diverse communities,” says Dr Babagana Kundi Machina, Executive Secretary of Yobe State Primary Healthcare Board.

Dr Machina notes that the government and its partners including WHO, will implement activities to respond with targeted humanitarian aid that will strengthen the health system to provide crucial quality health services to the Internally Displaced Camps (IDPs), resettled and host communities. 

This is intended to be achieved through, regular community dialogues with heads of households and opinion leaders to guide health responses to fit the needs of the people and provide community ownership. This will enable managers to prioritize lifesaving interventions, enhance primary healthcare systems and propose solutions for their health needs.

“With the technical expertise of the WHO team, we are optimistic that the humanitarian response plan will be inclusive and leaves no one behind in accessing health care intervention,” he says. 

Currently, WHO leads international action to expand universal health coverage and coordinates health emergency responses globally. 

In 2022, WHO in Yobe state reached 764 200 persons with essential health services, including vaccinating thousands of children against childhood killer diseases, treatment for minor ailments, screening of malnutrition, provision of ANC (Ante-Natal Care) services to pregnant women, etc. 

For 2023, WHO is expanding and modifying its emergency interventions to meet the specific needs of wider targeted vulnerable populations. 

WHO targets to reach 4,285,848 persons (internally displaced persons, returnees, and host communities) with health assistance through funding from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the United States Agency for International Development, the Contingency Fund for Emergencies, the governments of Germany, and the Netherlands. 

Services to be rendered include primary healthcare, mental health and psycho-social support, prevention of disease outbreaks, awareness creation, and prevention of gender-based violence.

To emphasize the need for community inclusivity, the WHO acting cluster lead, Emergency Preparedness Response, Dr Mie Okamura, says the WHO intends to ensure community involvement in the various community health interventions by identifying and engaging with community leaders, especially during the planning stage of every intervention including outbreak response, routine immunization, etc. 

“The planning stage will help in making effective and more informed decisions, which will strategically foster a community-centered approach in all WHO support to the state government”.

Dr Okamura adds that the WHO will work closely with Nigeria Government and its partners to ensure inclusivity in the health response to reduce vulnerabilities through efforts to build resilience and enhance self-reliance.