GIANT STRIDES OF A PUBLIC HEALTH ADMINISTRATOR
By Williams Ayooso
Since it was published in 1978, the Primary Health Care concept has undergone different stages of administrative surgeries, depending on the health needs of nations, countries and communities. But basically, it was conceptualized to serve as a grass-root management approach to providing health care services to communities.
The approach, as the concept stipulates, is to address the main health problems in the community, by providing preventive, curative and rehabilitative services at the grass-root level.
Primary Health Care initiative is agreed upon, globally, as a noble health care concept. The challenge however, has being the implementation strategy which in many communities, has rendered the concept ineffective. However, some public health administrators around the world are doing their best to overcome the challenges that posed on the successful implementation of this noble health care concept. Alhaji Aminu Jauro Hassan is one of them.
Since he assumed the mantle of leadership, on the 23rd February 2015, as the Pioneer Executive Secretary of the Taraba State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Hassan has never relented in deploying his skills and commitment to ensure that the agency’s goal succeeds in Taraba State.
Through his efforts, the Agency has hit the bar of success as a Primary Health Care Agency with at least one Health Care in each of the 168 wards in the state, operating 24 hours per day. This is a PHC’s global policy that poses a great challenge to other communities. But the Jauro Hassan led leadership have overcome the challenge. He is now pushing for other reforms and administrative strategies that can consolidate the gains that the agency has made in the state under his watch.
Like in every organization, the Agency had its measure of challenges. But Jauro Hassan broke the crust and changed the narrative. The agency, as Jauro Hassan told our reporter, in an exclusive interview, never had any budget allocation from the beginning. It relied so much on partners for support and funding. But respite came on its way subsequently. But this was until when development partners discovered that the agency is fully repositioned and the state government allocated a budget to it.
At present, it is a norm that the Primary Health Centers are working in collaboration with the nine General Hospitals in the state. As such, cases that cannot be managed by these health care centers are sent to the General Hospitals for proper management, after which they are referred back to the Primary Health Care centers, as the case may be.
After all, the Jauro Hassan led agency has an administrative structure with the capacity to deliver. At present, there are six functional departments in the agency. They are: Department of Community Health, Department of Primary Health care, Department of Immunization and Disease Control, Health Plan Research and Statistics. It also has different program units which comprises of; maternal and child health, family planning, immunization and nutrition among others.
With this heap of achievements, Jauro is not pumping his fist in the direction of his glory. He is attributing the success story to the support and cooperation of other stakeholders.
“To achieve this, I continue to liaise with the Head of Service, Civil Service Commission, Local Government Commission and indeed the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and the Secretary to the State Government… Not only that, the State Ministry of Health which is our mother ministry is supporting us a lot.” He said.
But Executive Secretary spoke more on the support from the Executive Governor of Taraba State.
“Taraba State Government under the leadership of His Excellency Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku has given us the enabling environment. If the governor had not given us such environment, those partners working here in Taraba state and particularly in the Agency, wouldn’t have worked with us.
“Taraba State Government has been consistent in releasing funds as at when due and on timely basis. He has personally attended to all our flag up ceremonies. That goes a long way to show his political will and commitment. He has been consistent in providing these funds. That is the reason why all the partners have also keyed in, to ensure that funding to the agency does not seize.
“As I am speaking to you, the UNICEF is the major funder of the Primary Health Care Development Agency. Through UNICEF we have succeeded in providing so many interventions to the teaming populace of Taraba state which includes IMCF, ICCM, Maternal and Child Health, immunization nutrition activities and a host of other things. We couldn’t have achieved all these, if His Excellency has not been forth coming…”
Sitting on this heap of achievements, is Jauro Hassan satisfied with the Agency’s impact on the health needs of the people of Taraba State?
“Deep within me, I can say that I am satisfied, due to what we put together; but not completely, because we are not yet there” He told our reporter.
“We want to ensure that we keep a legacy and create an enabling environment so that people can know where to go and get their services and also reduce out of pocket expenses. For us to achieve that, we must do more. But I have to appreciate the fact that we have achieved a lot, looking at where we started.
“When I took over, the immunization coverage was below 16% but now we have recorded about 82% coverage of the state in terms of immunization. Immunization is just one aspect of it. I use immunization as the backbone of our service delivery which is free and efficient.
“Another example is the Hard to Reach Project. The Hard to Reach Project is an initiative of His Excellency Arch. Darius Dickson Ishaku in collaboration with the Canadian Government and the UNICEF. A quantum of money was set aside for partnership and collaboration with counterparts coming from the state. The state baseline survey was conducted across the state, whereby it was realized that we have about 650 hard to reach ends. I believe you understand what we mean by hard to reach. But this goes beyond your imagination. Only someone who has being there will appreciate what I am saying.
“These are people living behind riverine areas, mountain areas, behind thick forest and what have you, who have never received medical attention or seen health personnel before. And their distance with health facilities is up to 30 – 40 kilometers. Thus, accessing those facilities becomes a problem. It may interest you to know that those services were delivered free of charge. We handled that project for a period of three years and it was a very successful one.
“Not only that, we have changed the narratives of our approach toward providing integrated Primary Health care services across all the 16 LGAs through capacity building of our staff, training, among other activities, providing them with all the necessary requirements, not 100%, but at least maximally to the level that they will appreciate.
“This is the reason why the patients in various hospitals have reduced, because they trust our Primary Health Care centers. The environments are hospitable, the drugs are there, the diagnoses units are there and they have proper diagnoses and also effective and qualitative drugs are being administered to them.” He said.
After his community health education at the famous ABU Zaria, Jauro Hassan proceeded to Federal University of Technology Yola (FUTY) where he read Health Administration and again to MAUTECH to read Bsc in Community Health. From there, the Community Health professional went to Taraba State University, where he obtained MSC in Health Economics. Aside these, he has attended national and international courses, obtained many certificates, among which is International Certificate in Decentralization from the Harvard University in the United States of America, International Certificate on performance Based Financing (PBF) and Sinna Health International from Kenya, among others.
Alhaji Aminu Jauro Hassan has a background in Public Health, which he started at the lower lungs of the ladder as the Community Health Care Assistant, from where he raised to the level of Health Economist. He has capped up his eventful career with a 34 year working experience in the Primary Health Care environment.
As a pioneer leader of this agency, Jauro wants to leave behind, a State Primary Health Care Development Agency that has a solid foundation and a workforce that will stand the test of time, providing integrated Primary Health Care Delivery that will translate into reduction of maternal mobility and mortality in the state.
Williams Ayooso is an Abuja based Media Practitioner