NASARAWA state government in collaboration with Pathfinder International, a Non-Governmental Organization has launched the state Task Shifting, Task Sharing Policy aimed at addressing manpower shortages in the state’s health sector.
The representatives of both organizations launched the policy document recently in Lafia on Wednesday, affirming that the Task Shifting and Task Sharing Policy was first launched by the federal government in 2014 to be implemented by states based on their health peculiarities.
The policy is aimed at taking care of shortage of manpower in the health sector to meet the universal health coverage and the health needs of the Nigerian population through the mobilization of available human resources to ensure equity, accessibility, and effectiveness in the delivery of essential health care services.
Task shifting is the rational distribution of tasks among health workforce teams while Task Sharing is allowing a wide range of cadres to offer a wide range of services when this can be done safely and effectively as a means of rapidly expanding health services and improving healthcare.
The policy in Nasarawa state will focus on Tuberculosis, malaria, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and newborn and reproductive health under the supervision of Pathfinder International.
In his keynote address, Alhaji Ishaku Abari, Permanent Secretary, Nasarawa state Ministry of Health said launching of the policy was long overdue given the shortage of human resources in the health sector in the state compared to the surging population in the state who require health services.
He explained that with the policy in place, health services will improve and will be easily accessible to the nooks and cranny of the state hence the need for all stakeholders involved in the implementation of the policy including the state government to play their part in improving the health of residents of the state.
The Permanent Secretary, however, cautioned the health personnel who will be engaged to implement the policy to stick strictly to guidelines of the policy and not overstep their capacities and scope of responsibilities.
“Some of us are overzealous. Once we are given a task, surely as human beings, we go beyond the task. Please let me warn that it will be detrimental. You must stop within the limit of what you are told,” he said.
Also speaking, Dr Sekina Bello, Technical Adviser of Pathfinder International said that for the policy to be fully implemented, effective and achieve the required results in the state, the Nasarawa state must provide the necessary resources expected of it.
“After today, it is our hope that Nasarawa state will go a step further apart from having the policy in a book to develop its own implementation plan as well as accountability mechanism to make sure the task shifting policy is fully implemented and we want to showcase Nasarawa state as a case study for the success of the task shifting policy,” she said.
In an interview, Dr Alhassan Ibrahim, Director of Public Health the State Ministry of Health told newsmen that the launching and implementation of the policy is necessary in view of the shortage of manpower in the health sector.
“It is an open secret that in the primary health care centres that we have, we don’t even have enough doctors and of course, the nurses and midwives we have at that level of care is not acceptable. It is a doctrine of necessity for us at this time to be to embrace the policy so that in the interim, we will be able to bridge that gap and provide the necessary human resource for our teeming population,” he said.
He added Nasarawa state government keyed into the policy after realising that it does not have the requisite doctors, nurses and midwives to function everywhere to attain universal coverage in the state.
“For the long-term measure, in the next three years, we will start churning out nurses and midwives and in the next six to seven years we will start churning out doctors but can we wait until then? we cannot wait.
“So for now we are doing a task shifting so that the skills of doctors, nurses and midwives will be task shifted to community health workers that we have in abundant number so that for now they will performing those jobs and responsibilities doctors, nurses and midwives do after been trained and under strict monitoring and supervision so that we can have the requisite manpower,” he said.