The Founder of Medicaid Cancer Foundation and wife of Kebbi State Governor and, Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, says the COVID-19 pandemic has tremendously helped improve the nation’s health system.
Speaking on Friday at the maiden edition of the PUNCH Digital Town Hall with the theme: ‘Strengthening the Nigerian Maternal and Child Health through Clinical and Community-based Interventions’, Dr. Shinkafi-Bagudu said that rather than seeing the outbreak of the COVID-19 in the country as a disaster for the health system, she has seen that the pandemic has helped to stimulate improvement in the health sector and health system.
“I like to think of COVID-19 as a stimulant to our health system and indeed it has been a stimulant to the health sector.
“With the pandemic, there has been a lot of intervention in the health sector and I like what it has done to our health system.
“A lot of equipment that was not available before have been bought.
“A lot of resources have been thrown into the health system to solve problems and there have also been the training of personnel as well,” she said.
Dr. Bagudu noted that when the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out, there was a report that Kebbi state has just one ventilator, noting that things have changed significantly in the state since then.
“When the pandemic broke out…there was a report that Kebbi State has zero or just one ventilator. The report wasn’t true, but we have since definitely improved.
“But the ventilator is just one end of the spectrum. At the lower end of the spectrum of healthcare, we have since done so many things that have helped us to improve,” she said.
The first lady stated further that COVID-19 came when nobody was prepared, adding that the pandemic also led to the diversion of a lot of resources towards controlling the pandemic which has inadvertently helped to improve the health sector and the health system.
The pandemic, Shinkafi-Bagudu said also affected Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent and Elderly Health Plus Nutrition programmes.
She, however, with the support of the state governor, a state-wide community-based sensitization programme was carried out to educate the people on how to prevent the COVID-19 disease, adding that components of the RMNCAH+N were included in the advocacy held at the grassroots.
“Many activities have been carried out through an advocacy agenda by the office of the First Lady. These have positively impacted on RMNCAH+N in Kebbi state,” she said.
She listed some of the advocacy as a campaign to domesticate the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act and Child’s Right Act in Kebbi State; engagement of wives of 21 LGA chairmen, 22 elected female councillors and wives of House of Assembly members in advocacy and the inauguration of the State Advocacy Group on RMNCAH, noting that the group comprised of relevant community stakeholders.
Other interventions include the setting up of the Kebbi State Multi-Purpose Business-Cooperative Union, an empowerment scheme for women and youth and the engagement of traditional rulers, religious leaders, skilled workers and government agencies.
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