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As part of efforts aimed at addressing nutritional and health concerns of Nigerians affected by insurgency, the Federal Government in Abuja said it had kick-started the Rapid Response Initiative (RRI) of the Borno State government with N4.6 billion.

The scheme is put in place to bring to bear Federal Government’s health agenda and policy to the doorstep of Nigerians, targeting the poorest of the poor.

According to the Minister of Health; Professor Isaac Adewole “The RRI in the North East is of special interest to us, and Mr. President personally directed us to move to the North East. What we wanted to do originally was to intervene in acute and malnutrition under the RRI, and make sure we treat malnourished children numbering up 200,000,” The RRI of the Federal Government, is not limited to North East alone, but is borne out of the need to respond to the critical needs of promoting health with focus on Access, Affordability and Demand. The Minister of health also issued a directive that all tertiary hospitals and federal medical centres across the country must key into the initiative by providing surgical intervention components.

“Under this intervention, 10,000 surgeries, including herniorrhaphy, cleft lip, and palate repairs, myomectomy, hysterectomy, Vescico-Vagina Fistula (VVF), among others, would be carried out in 46 institutions for indigent Nigerians. We have set criteria to screen for eligible people that will benefit from the project, targeting the poorest of the poor,” Adewole said.

While giving further insights into RRI’s interventions in the North East, he said, “We are scaling it up because of the taskforce for the North East set up by Mr. President, which is being chaired by the Vice President. This taskforce has an agenda to make a huge difference in the North East.

“Each of the thematic areas is being handled by a minister. For instance, I am handling the health and nutritional component, and as am speaking now to you, drugs and nutritional supplements are moving into Borno State.

Adewole explained further that, “We are setting up 15 teams of health professionals to work in Borno and I can assure you give me another two or three weeks, you will notice a significant impact in Borno State with respect to health and nutrition. There is a budget of N4.6 billion for this and we have commenced work already according to the directive of Mr. President.”The Federal Government had moved in to intervene directly in the North East, explaining that, “The team would have a doctor, pharmacists and a nurse, and we are picking about 50 percent of the health team from local area, while the rest could come from other parts of the country. Once we settle down in Borno, we will extend to Adamawa and Yobe states.”

Meanwhile, chief medical director of National Hospital; Jafaru Momoh, in Abuja, said the hospital was already working with community leaders in the Federal Capital Territory who identify and brought people who could not afford medical care and had been languishing in their homes to access the Federal Government’s RRI scheme.

Momoh said,” We recruited after screening about 400 patients. After screening, we recruited 197.Out of the 197, 72 met the social stratification of qualifying for the poorest of the poor. Out of this 72, we have already operated 64 persons, as we have spill over patients from last year; we are going to attend to this year. We have already dedicated Saturdays for RRI so that we wouldn’t interfere with our routine operations at the National Hospital”

In his own submission, Ozovehe Mike Ogirima, Nigeria Medical Association president, said the Federal Government should intensify advocacy for the people at the lower wrung of the ladder to know more about the RRI, noting that the awareness was still low, as most Nigerians were still not aware of the initiative


Source: Business Day Newspapers

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