The Federal Government is building the capacity of workers and stakeholders in the health sector to respond appropriately to health humanitarian crisis in the country, Dr Abdulaziz Mashi, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, said.
He made this known at the opening of a five-day capacity building workshop on humanitarian focal persons for health sector response to humanitarian crisis on Monday in Abuja.
Represented by Mr Joseph Amedu, a Director in the ministry, Mashi said that the effort was prompted by the recent social upheavels ranging from natural and man-made factors, which led to population displacement, increased morbidity and mortality.
He said “health serves as a constant denominator for measuring the severity of a humanitarian crisis and the primary goal of the health sector in any crisis is resilience, which is to maintain delivery of essential services and to reduce mobidity and mortality.
“For this reason, the government prioritised health as veritable tool for building better societies affected by man-made and natural disasters.”
According to him, government initiated the Health Sector Response to Humanitarian Crisis to ensure quality healthcare for people and communities affected by crisis and disasters, particularly vulnerable groups.
He explained that “the Health Sector Response also collaborates with key stakeholders to provide humanitarian aide to ensure health services for Nigerians affected by armed conflict through basic and essential services and health system strengthening.”
He added that the government also implemented the resolution 20 of the 61st National Council on Health to institutionalise coordinating offices for health sector response to humanitarian crisis nationwide and strengthen the extant national coordination office on health sector response to humanitarian crisis.
Dr Ngozi Anazodo, the Coordinator, Health Sector Response to Humanitarian Crisis, said that the initiative had been in existence for over four years to provide intervention to those affected by humanitarian crisis.
Anazodo said “we have been working in Borno in the past four years and we have a huge team of 350 healthcare workers in 33 teams providing services in the local government areas of the state.”
She, therefore, reiterated government’s commitment toward supporting pregnant women, children, vulnerable and those at the Internally Displaced People’s (IDPs) camp, noting that “we have teams that are responsible and can be called upon during an emergency situation.’’
Representative of the World Health Organisation, Mr Ifeanyi Ukodoh, said the workshop would provide platform for stakeholders to proffer solutions to those affected by emergencies.
He said “the whole idea of response is to be prepared, so if we are prepared, then we can perform better and the response will be more effective and predictable.”
Also, Dr Kola Jinadu of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, said the workshop was apt, as it would prepare participants with skills to enable them to respond promptly to any humanitarian crisis.
“This workshop is timely because we now live in a world of both sometimes predictable and unpredictable humanitarian crisis. Nobody can tell when next we will have crisis, it is a global phenomenon.”
On his part, Dr Ifeanyi Ohanu from Faculty of Vocational and Technical Education, University of Nigeria (UNN), stressed the need to empower persons affected by humanitarian crisis with skills, rather than leavimg them idle in the camps or settlement areas.
He said “every human being needs to have a sense of belonging, which has to do with their psychology and behaviour that will make them to be stable and normal.
“Displaced persons need to be encouraged by helping them to acquire some skills, which will help them to be doing something rather than being idle.’’
Ms Sadiya Farouk, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, said the workshop would strengthen the much-needed delivery of quality health humanitarian services and assistance in the North East and Nigeria in general.
Farouk, whi was represented by an official in the ministry, Olufemi Alaka, commended the Ministry of Health and other partners for their prompt response in challenges affecting humanitarian setting.