Port Harcourt, 27 April, 2021 – The World Health Organization Country Representative Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo has made his first visit to Rivers State Government House to meet with His Excellency, Governor Nyesome Wike on 26 April 2021.
In his brief remarks, Dr Mulombo acknowledged the strong leadership and improved investment of the State government in health, including remarkable response to COVID-19 pandemic. In his words, “Indeed, Rivers state has sustained its testing at very high levels while several other states had a significant decline in testing. Additionally, while test positivity increased to near 20% across several states during the 2nd wave, test positivity remained below 10% even at the peak of the 2nd wave in the state.”
While re-affirming the technical support of WHO to the State, he stressed that the Wild Polio free-status presents government with opportunity to utilize the polio-infrastructure for broader health interventions. He informed that the WHO and partners are launching the Immunisation Agenda 2030 as part of the celebration of the World Immunisation Week. The Strategy ensures that everyone, everywhere at every age fully benefits from vaccines for their good health and well-being. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Vaccines bring us closer” taking a que from the lessons and importance of Covid-19 vaccines in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his prayers to the governor, the WR tabled three major requests: The signing of the Rivers State Contributory Health Protection (RIVCHPP) Programme Bill into law; Strengthen continuity of quality essential health services; Provision of five genexpert machines to ensure adequate diagnosis of TB in all the LGAs and recruitment of health work force in the state to boost provision of health care in the state
While still at the Government House, the WR secured the Governor’s commitment to immediately sign the RIVCHPP Programme Bill into law, to offer financial protection to the people to access health services, thereby improving Universal Health Coverage.
Responding further, the Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency Governor Wike acknowledged that collaborative leadership and engagement with the WHO is strengthening continuity of quality essential health services even as the State is responding to the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic and other disease outbreaks such as Lassa fever and Monkey Pox.
According to the Governor, “the good relationship between WHO and the Rivers State Government is contributing significantly to achieving good health indicators amongst our diverse population.
Rivers State is located in the oil rich Niger Delta region in the South-South geopolitical zone with a total population of over eight million people. The State has two major refineries, two major seaports, an international airport, and various industrial estates spread across the State particularly in the state capital, Port Harcourt. While the State’s economy is still largely dependent on oil, the declining oil price, environmental degradation and oil pollution as well extant insecurity are affecting quality of life of the people and general health of the citizenry.
Against this background, the WHO is providing technical support to the State government in coordinating ongoing reforms towards universal health coverage (UHC) and health security in line with the State Strategic Health Development plan 2018-2022.
During the mission to Rivers State, the WR also held a separate meeting with the Commissioner for Health, Professor Princewill Anthony Chike, and mentioned that his first mission to Rivers State provides better insights into how WHO can reposition its resources towards strengthening the health sector in the State based on identified priorities in order to keep Rivers people healthy and safe, while serving the vulnerable.
Dr Boateng Koffi; Email: boatengko [at] who.int; Tel: +234 706 449 1772
Dr Famiyesin Ekundare; Email: famiyesinw [at] who.int; +234 705 801 6273