Mrs Toyin Saraki speaks out on healthcare, Vaccines
By Olasunkanmi Onifade
Mrs Toyin Saraki has called on the Federal Gvernment and all stakeholders in the health sector not to rest until the goal to attain effective healthcare for all Nigerians is met.
Mrs Saraki, the President, Well being Foundation Africa, also called on the FG to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to ensure appropriate frameworks for sustainable vaccination trends in the country.
Saraki, wife of the President of the Senate, made the call during healthcare innovation award, roundtable and media briefing organised by GlaxoSmithKline and Save the Children in Abuja.
Alma Sana Nigeria, one of the winners in Africa, won 100,000 dollars award for stimulating uptake and demand for immunisation, by wearing a bracelet.
The innovation uses the simple bracelet to empower mothers by presenting them with a constant reminder of their baby’s vaccination schedules.
Saraki said such stakeholders include NGOs, advocacy bodies, philanthropy funds, and community leaders should be encouraged.
“Policy must make and reflect a greater social obligation to vaccinate promptly, easily, and properly, and enforce this amongst all people.
“There is need to be better disease surveillance nationally and regionally and an improved disease monitoring system to catch potential outbreaks early are essential if lives are to be saved.
“This requires stronger training for health workers, and greater funding to make this happen, health workers must understand how the reporting mechanism for preventing an outbreak,” she said.
Saraki said better health education and advocacy should be given to citizens on symptoms through media campaigns.
According to her, we must rebuild community trust in medicine and healthcare workers, so they will look for a doctor or a nurse, when they have symptoms instead of ignoring it or fearing a hospital.
“We can, through innovations like this bracelet, and through patient-custody records, make the family, an agent-driver of their own change, an informed and active partner.
“We cannot rest until global figures reflect victory comprehensively, completely, inclusively, and permanently,” she said.
Wife of the President of the Senate said there had been a growing misconception about vaccinations as some argue that vaccinations are dangerous and ineffective, with some pseudo-science even hypothesising the link between vaccinations and autism.
“We must inform citizens and local communities that vaccinations and immunisation will not lead to autism and their children are safer and healthier by being vaccinated.
“Vaccinations apart from other medical practices have the ability to protect not just an individual, but a community.
“For those who have limited access to frontline healthcare workers, a vaccination schedule can be self directed and appropriately informed such by the bracelet by Alma Sana, ” Saraki said.
The Deputy Country Director of Save the Children, Mr Babatunde Ojei said immunisation was one of the world’s tools for reducing mortality and morbidity.
“Alma Sana selected Nigeria for their next programme because of its poor vaccination rates and large population.
“We welcome the fantastic innovation, which can and should be replicated across the country,” he said.
The Managing Director of GSK pharmaceutical, Mr Bhushan Akshikar said the successful implementation of the project would support the Nigerian government to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We look forward to the commencement of the pilot programme,” he said.
Alma Sana, US based NGO, a consortium of partners dedicated to helping save children’s lives through timely immunisation.