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Stakeholders laud CHIPS for promoting essential health practices in Kaduna LG

by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna

Stakeholders in some communities in Ikara Local Government Area of Kaduna State have commended the Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Services (CHIPS) programme for promoting essential health practices in their domains.

The stakeholders, who made the commendation in Ikara, said that the programme has increased uptake of health services in rural communities.

The CHIPS programme is structured to stimulate and support households in communities to seek health services at health facilities and outreaches. It also enables clients to obtain essential Primary Health Care (PHC) services, by bringing the services closer to households through home visits by CHIPS Agents, especially in rural underserved communities.

The Ward Head of Tsauni Community, Jamfalan Ward, Malam Saleh Ibrahim, said that the CHIPS programme has impacted significantly on the attitude of parents and caregivers towards the health care of their children.

He said that the programme, through its community agents, was enlightening women on the importance of antenatal care, routine immunization, hospital delivery and other essential health practices. This, according to him, is critical to ensuring the safety of the mother and children under five years.

“We have seen an improvement in the health status of our women and children. We now know how to prevent certain illnesses and what to do when our children or women are sick or pregnant.”

A community member, Ali Tsauni, also commended the CHIPS Agents for the house-to-house enlightenment, adding that the strategy has significantly improved their practices that support health growth and development of children.

The CHIPS Programme Manager in the state, Hajiya Hajara Musa, said that a total 449 CHIPS Agents and 170 Community Engagement Focal Persons (CEFPs) have been trained in eight local government areas of the state.

According to her, the CHIPS Agents and the CEFPs are bridging the gaps in access to health care services at community level.

Mr Auwalu Musa, Health Educator, Ikara LGA, who is the Desk of the CHIPS programme, said that a total of 41 CHIPS Agents and eight CEFPs were implementing the programme in eight Wards in the LGA.

Musa said that the CHIPS programme has contributed significantly in the implementation of all health programmes in the LGA, particularly in the mobilization of community members’ access services.

She added that the programme has contributed to the reduction of maternal death in the LGA as a result of sensitisation of pregnant women to visit health facilities for antenatal care and hospital delivery.

At the facility level, Mrs Murna John, who is Second-In-Charge of PHC Ikara, described the CHIPS programme as a “game changer,” saying, “the activities of the CHIPS agents is changing the narratives of ANC attendance in the PHC.”

Murna specifically said that the activities of the CHIPS agents have significantly increased ANC attendance in the facility.

“Before we used to record about 700 women in a month, who visit the PHC for ANC, but now we are recording over 1,000 in a month. We are very happy with this initiative,” she said.

The Health Secretary, Ikara LGA, Dr Yahuza Mohammed, particularly commended the programme for sensitization and mobilization of community members in hard-to-reach areas.

“We have seen a lot of changes in immunization, antenatal care, and improvement in access to health care services by children under five years and other critical health services.

“CHIPS programme is a laudable initiative that needs to be sustained because of the remarkable improvement we are seeing when it comes to the utilization of health care services in the LGA,” Yahuza said.

On his part, Dr Obinna Orjingene, an Health Specialist for UNICEF Abuja, explained that the CHIPS strategy has harmonized existing community-based programmes under one umbrella to strengthen integration of healthcare services.

“The CHIPS Agents are working at household level, providing counselling services, creating demand, and referring household members to PHC facilities for uptake of needed services.

“They also provide basic promotive, preventive services and case management of uncomplicated cough, diarrhoea and fever in children under five years,” Orjingene stated.

He said that UNICEF would continue to support such initiatives to ensure that children access the best of health care and support them to grow and develop to full potential.

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