ANAMBRA State Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala has said his ministry will partner with Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK) team of researchers on Social Innovation in Health Initiative (SIHI), to improve healthcare service delivery in the State.
Dr. Okpala gave the assurance during a courtesy visit by the team to his office at the Jerome Udoji Secretariat Complex, Awka.
“This is actually an interesting meeting, knowing that people are thinking about projects like this and it is truly interesting and I am excited about this development.
“Looking at Africa, the story of Africa and healthcare, it is a sorry story but if you also look around, you see people doing something great that are still encouraging.
“The Academia has a major role to play in the society, while helping to solve problems; they are the idea generators to the society in existence.
“The Academia becomes useless if it does not solve or generate ideas that will help to translate solutions to society.
“Unfortunately, like we turn to consumers in the country, so we consume knowledge, everything and because this is actually where the academia becomes the driver for problematic change in society.”
He expressed joy that the research team was coming up with a great initiative which would help solve the problems in the healthcare sector.
The Commissioner commended the research team made up of Professors, Doctors, Lecturers and Social Scientists and assured them of his ministry’s support and commitment toward improving healthcare delivery to the people.
Leader of the Group, Prof. Obioma Nwaorgu said that the aim of their visit was to partner with the ministry and to compliment Government efforts in the healthcare sector.
“We are team of researchers at Nnamdi Azikiwe University and we were awarded a research grant by World Health Organisation (WHO), to research in Social Innovation in Health.”
According to her, Social Innovation in Health Initiative is an informal network of individuals and Institutions sharing a common goal to advance social innovation.
Prof. Nwaorgu explained that SIHI is a global network of passionate individuals, organisations and institutions advocating for social innovation in health and advancing research in social innovation.
The professor, a Fellow Academia of Science (FAS), noted that the aim of the Social Innovation in Health Initiative (SIHI) is to Accelerate Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria.
“Social innovation in health started in 2014 and at that time WHO, collaborated with London School of Tropical Medicine and discovered that certain diseases were found in Africa.
“So it is time for us to start looking within and to find solutions within ourselves and some vulnerable groups in remote areas to know some of their problems.
“Our objective is to look into issues related to communicable diseases, maternal and child health and even non communicable disease and access to quality healthcare.”
According to her, the initiative is already working in countries like Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and they started theirs in 2004 and called HOBs.
“When they started working in these countries, WHO decided that they should also increase the number of countries that can use this initiative.
“So those HOBs had to get other HOBs from other countries and that is how Nigeria and Ghana got involved.”
The research team members are, Prof. Chinyere Stella Okunna, Prof. Chinyelu Ekwunife, Dr. Obinna Ekwunife Programme manager, Dr. Oge Aribodor, Dr. Chinyere Onubogu and Mr. Kingsley Anigbogu as members.
Present during the visit include the Director Public Health and Disease Control, Dr. Uchechukwu Onyejimbe, Director Medical Services, Dr. Ugochukwu Chukwulobelu and HOD Planning Research and Statistics, Mrs. Edith Nwachukwu.
BY SUNNY A. DAVID