By Bode Olushegun
Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum has been praised for his aggressive development of primary healthcare despite the fact that his state is facing age-long security challenge.
Among those that commended the governor’s effort were renowned businessmen, Mr Bill Gates, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, and Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ohanire.
The trio took turn on Thursday to pour encomiums on the Governor during the mid-year review of Borno’s 2020 immunization and primary healthcare coverage.
The comments were made in a live video conference held at Nigerian office of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Abuja,
At the conference were Governor Babagana Zulum, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, the Executive Director, National Primary Healthcare Development, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, Country Director of World Health Organization and Borno’s Commissioner of Health, Dr Salihu Kwayabura.
Contributing from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital via video conference, were Shehu of Borno’s representative and head of Borno’s Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Sule Mele.
Gates, who spoke first in reviewing Borno’s progress, said he was impressed with Zulum’s quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic, notwithstanding security setbacks, (which prevented what could have been a major impact in a State with IDP camps).
He said he was also satisfied with evidence of Zulum’s lead-supervision and commitment to increasing citizens’ access to primary healthcare.
On his part, Dangote said he was impressed with Zulum’s increased allocation of 20% of Borno’s revised budget to healthcare as against 8% in the previous budget.
He also said he was impressed with Zulum’s quick release of Borno’s counterpart contribution to “basket” which collects finances from supporting partners – Gates and Dangote, as well as benefitting States to show their commitment to funding immunization and other healthcare efforts.
“Like you (Governor Zulum) has done quite remarkably, I am happy to announce that Dangote foundation has also released its funds to the basket, today (Thursday),” said Dangote.
Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire said he had been following track of Zulum’s overall progress in healthcare and was very impressed.
The same view was shared by Dr Shuaib of the NPHCDA.
The four speakers in their reviews, however, identified areas Borno’s healthcare team could improve in their current drive.
Governor Zulum, in his closing remarks, expressed gratitude to Mr Gates, Dangote, the Federal Ministry of Health, the WHO and all other partners for supporting Borno’s healthcare development efforts.
He recounted that 51 primary healthcare centers were so far built in line with the determination to have at least one PHC in each of Borno’s 312 wards.
He also said he had just given approval for the recruitment of hundreds of medical personnel (specifics of which will be announced by him on Monday in Maiduguri).
The Governor promised to sustain and increase the drive for the healthy well-being of Borno’s people.