The Federal Government of Nigeria has taken a significant step towards addressing the workforce gaps in the country’s primary health care (PHC) services, with the launch of the National Community-Based Health Research Innovative-Training and Services Programme (CRISP), in Abuja.
During the launch on Monday, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo emphasised the importance of having adequate and well-distributed human resources for effective healthcare delivery.
CRISP is a groundbreaking intervention designed to empower community medicine resident doctors to provide healthcare services at PHCs within the catchment area of universities. The program aims to transfer knowledge to the health workers at these facilities and will be implemented nationwide.
Representing the vice president at the launch, the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen highlighted the crucial role of skilled workers in healthcare delivery. She emphasised that even the most advanced infrastructure, equipment and commodities would not suffice without an adequate workforce.
Tallen stated, “There is no better way to tackle the challenges of healthcare delivery in Nigeria than to close the gaps in the equitable availability of skilled health workers in our PHC facilities. This can be achieved through creative measures such as CRISP”.
The vice president drew attention to the alarming statistics regarding Nigeria’s healthcare situation. Despite accounting for only two percent of the global population, the country bears 14 percent of the world’s maternal death burden. Additionally, Nigeria loses 2,500 children under the age of 5 each day, mostly due to preventable causes and the lack of skilled birth attendants. A staggering 80 per cent of these deaths occur in primary health care and community settings, underscoring the urgency of implementing the CRISP strategy.
Osinbajo assured the audience of President Muhammadu Buhari’s and his own commitment to improving the health and well-being of Nigerians. He expressed confidence that the CRISP initiative would enable skilled health workers from teaching hospitals and federal medical centers to offer services in PHCs across all states. Furthermore, the programme would facilitate capacity transfer, mentorship of PHC workers and the promotion of best practices in community health.
He remarked, “I believe that effective implementation of this initiative will help to fast track the attainment of universal health coverage as well as the reduction in preventable maternal and child mortalities in Nigeria”.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire emphasised that the CRISP initiative was a pivotal part of the government’s four-point agenda for transforming PHCs. This collaborative endeavour involves the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), tertiary teaching hospitals, federal medical centres, state primary health care boards, local government areas and communities. Ehanire highlighted the programme’s aim to leverage teaching hospitals and federal medical centres to deploy skilled healthcare workers to PHCs in communities, where they will provide routine services, mentorship and capacity-building.
CRISP has been carefully designed to align with the government’s vision of Universal Health Coverage, Ehanire added.
The health and nutrition programme officer for the Aliko Dangote Foundation, Dr. Maryam Buhari-Shehu expressed the foundation’s commitment to supporting the health sector. She pledged to fulfil their commitments and encouraged other collaborators to join the cause, emphasising that universal healthcare coverage was attainable through collaborative efforts.
The executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib stated that CRISP aimed to strengthen quality service provision, infrastructure, capacity-building, and indigenous research at the community level. As part of the agency’s PHC transformation agenda, the initiative would involve resident doctors from teaching hospitals and federal medical centres supporting service provision and capacity building of PHC health workers at the community level.
The CRISP initiative will be implemented in all 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory in a phased manner. It is a multi-stakeholder investment, funded by the Nigerian Government with support from development partners and philanthropists.
With the launch of CRISP, the Federal Government has taken a crucial step towards bridging the workforce gaps in PHCs. This initiative holds the potential to significantly improve healthcare delivery, reduce maternal and child mortality rates and accelerate progress towards achieving universal health coverage in Nigeria.