*FG adopts iCCM as evidence-based curative interventionIn a bid to prevent the death of over 756,000 Nigerian children, under the age of five, lost yearly to malaria and its complications, stakeholders have called for the scaling up of efforts even as the Federal Government has adopted the Integrated Community Case Management on Childhood Illness (iCCM) as evidence-based curative intervention.
To assess the efforts made to avert deaths of under five children and to also device workable strategies and mechanisms for scaling up of the evidence-based interventions for the overall wellbeing of children, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) convened a two-day annual symposium on iCCM, where child health partners and other stakeholders came together.
During the symposium, the Permanent Secretary, FMoH, Mr. Osarenoma Uwaifo, who was represented by Head, Child Health Division, Department of Family Health, Dr. Abosede Adeniran, said that Nigeria contributes to 11 per cent of the overall global deaths of under-five children, ranking second on the list of countries with burdens of child mortality.
He said that one in every eight children born in Nigeria die before their fifth birthday and pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria represented an estimated 58 per cent of these deaths with malnutrition underlying about 50 per cent of them.
Although the challenges to childhood deaths in the country remain finance and access to healthcare, the Permanent Secretary said that the Federal Government had adopted the iCCM as an evidence-based community curative intervention that addresses the issue of access, quality, demand and equity in healthcare delivery.
Troubled by the towering figures of under five deaths in Nigeria, in 2012, the Federal Government of Nigeria in collaboration with some development agencies, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Malaria Consortium, Society for Family Health, European Union (EU), Christian Aid, among other partners, embarked on the implementation of iCCM, focusing on the reduction of the burdens of deaths of under-five children from malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia in undeserved, hard to reach areas using Community Oriented Resource Persons (CORPs). The overall goal of Nigeria’s iCCM according to Adeniran, is “to contribute to reduction in number of deaths among children under-five years of age through improved access to timely treatment of common childhood illness of pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria within homes and community as well as identifying sick newborns and malnourished children for prompt referral to a health facility for appropriate care”
Stressing on the need to take health interventions to communities, Adeniran said that 62 per cent of fewer than five deaths take place in the home, while 38 per cent takes place in the hospital. These troubling figures, she stressed, portend that there was need to strengthen community-level health interventions that address access, quality, demand and equity through strategic partnership between health workers and families. This partnership according to her, had become expedient because healthy lifestyle starts at home, home is where treatment starts using locally purchased medicine, big segment of the population in the country do not have access to health facilities and even where access to health facilities is reasonably good, most children die at home without being tended to by health care givers.
Adeniran said that currently, there are twelve states across the federation where iCCM is being implemented. With the support of development partners such as the WHO, UNICEF, USAID, Malaria Consortium, Society for Family Health, Christian Aid, European Union, amongst other partners, the programme is being implemented in Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger as well as the IDP camps in Borno, and Yobe states. In addition to these ten states, pre-implementation activities had been done in Ebonyi and Kogi states. In Niger state, North Central Nigeria, according to the report presented recently by the iCCM Focal Person in the state, Dr. Patrick Gimba, the implementation of iCCM through strategic collaboration between health care providers and the community had brought tremendous increase in access to quality health service through capacity building, quality service delivery and commodity supply.
According to Gimba, appropriate treatments of confirmed cases of the three diseases were 306,148, for Malaria, 205,919 for diarrhoea and 64,074 for cough with fast or difficult breathing. Abia state in South-Eastern Nigeria was one of the beneficiary states of iCCM. In fact, Abia along Niger state were the two pioneer states where the implementation of iCCM was birthed. According to a report that chronicles the success story of iCCM in the state, the programme commenced on 1st November, 2013 and was completed on 31st January, 2018 and within this period, 524,562 under five children were treated of malaria, while 204,836 and 193,486 were treated of diarrhoea and pneumonia, respectively.
The report also added that the project was implemented in fifteen local government councils out of the seventeen local government councils in the state. Despite the successes recorded, the programme, according to the report, was marred with lots of challenges as over 95 per cent of the female CORPs had no bank accounts, a scenario that created financial exclusiveness of female gender. Also, the protracted strikes of health workers in the state in 2014 and 2015 threatened training and project implementation activities.
The implementation of iCCM in the country also takes into cognisance the dangerous and volatile environment of the North Eastern Nigeria. The humanitarian crisis in the region has created congenial atmosphere for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea to flourish. Disturbingly, 28 per cent of over 1.7 million displaced individuals in the region are under five years. The WHO being concerned about the plights of these children, swung into action in 2015 and with the support from USAID, established some interventions which deal with the three childhood diseases in the IDPs camps and their host communities in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe.
To increase access to health services and reduce morbidity and mortality, WHO trained and deployed CORPs to provide an Integrated Community case management for treatment of malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia, as well screening for malnutrition and health promotion. In addition, WHO provided commodities and stipend logistics to CORPs and supervisors to incentivize them and boost their enthusiasm.
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac F. Adewole, recently re-echoed Federal Government’s commitments to scale up the intervention. He described iCCM as a learning curve in view of the lessons to be learned and the challenges that could be encountered.“Drawing on the lessons learned, the National Council of Health in 2016 approved the scale up of iCCM to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory,” the Minister said.
According to the Minister, “the vision of the of the current Government places people at the centre of development by ensuring Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through revitalisation of the Primary Health System as well as the Community structures. Opportunities abound therefore, especially the platform for delivery and funding of iCCM to sustain implementation in Nigeria.”