Diri urges UNICEF to establish office in Bayelsa

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Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa has appealed to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to establish a field office in Bayelsa.

He made the appeal in Yenagoa, while taking delivery of six water ambulances, donated by  UNICEF, to boost immunisation coverage and primary care delivery services in riverine communities in the state.

The governor,represented at the occasion by his deputy, Mr Lawrence Ewhrujakpo, said the creation of a UNICEF office would enable the organisation  to properly coordinate its programmes in the state .

He added  that the office would help UNICEF to effectively implement its programmes and strengthen partnership with the state government.

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The governor decried the present arrangement, whereby the UN agency’s programmes were being coordinated in the state through the Rivers  UNICEF field office.

While expressing gratitude to UNICEF  and the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) for their partnership with government to improve primary healthcare indices ,  Diri urged greater collaboration to achieve more success.

He commended UNICEF for donating the boat ambulances as well as renovating some primary healthcare centres across Bayelsa.

Diri said that government would soon unfold the state’s nutrition policy, and  promised the UNICEF Country Representative and her team that the state would make judicious use of the ambulances to realise the purpose for which they were donated.

“Bayelsa is 70 per cent riverine. So for us to make effective supervision, for effective healthcare delivery to the people, boats are required, and today you have delivered six water ambulances.

“So, we are very grateful to the UNICEF for the six water ambulances to boost our healthcare delivery system.

“We also want to thank you for renovating six health centres in our state. It will be unfair if we do not acknowledge that kind gesture of yours,” he said.

In her remarks, the UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Ms Cristian Munduate, applauded the Bayelsa government for prioritising healthcare delivery services in the state, especially in the primary healthcare sub-sector.

Munduate noted that the six water ambulances donated by UNICEF and her partners were meant to close up existing gaps in the health sector as Bayelsa still had about 20 thousand children yet to be reached for immunisation.

She, however, pointed out that, from the statistics available, Bayelsa achieved 20 per cent increase in routine immunisation in the last couple of years, stressing that  there was still room for improvement to achieve 100 per cent coverage.

On his part, the Executive Secretary of the Bayelsa Primary Healthcare Board, Dr Williams Appah, said the formal handover of the ambulances marked  a significant milestone in the primary healthcare delivery system and assured that the facilities would be put to good use.

Also speaking, the Senior Country Representative of Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI), Jessica Crawford, described the ceremony as a dream come true for both GAVI and UNICEF.

She appreciated the dedication and commitment shown by Bayelsa government, and expressed  hope that with provision of the ambulances, there would be improvement in immunisation coverage and overall primary healthcare delivery in the state. (NAN)

By Shedrack Frank

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