UNICEF donates 6 brand new water ambulances to Bayelsa

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… As Gov Diri appeals for establishment of a field office

By Eunice Nnachi, Yenagoa

In a bid to boost immunization coverage and primary health care delivery services in riverine communities, the Bayelsa state yesterday took delivery of six brand new water ambulances donated by the United Nations Children Fund,
(UNICEF).

The Bayelsa governor Senator Douye Diri also appealed to the UNICEF to establish a field office in the state to coordinate its programmes and strengthen partnership which will enhance better delivery of its mandate.

Governor Diri who made the appeal in Yenagoa
during the presentation, of the ambulance boats, said the creation of a UNICEF field office in the state would make for better coordination and implementation of the organization’s policies and programmes in Bayelsa.

Represented at the ceremony by his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, decried the present arrangement whereby the UN agency’s programmes are being coordinated in the state through the Rivers State UNICEF field office.

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

The. Bayelsa helmsman particularly thanked the UNICEF for donating the boat ambulances as well as renovating some primary healthcare centres across the state.

Governor Diri, who disclosed that government would soon unfold the state’s nutrition policy, promised the UNICEF Country Representative, Ms Cristian Munuate and her team that the state would make judicious use of the ambulances to realize the purpose for which they were donated.

His words: “Bayelsa is 70 percent riverine. So for us to make effective supervision, for effective healthcare delivery to the people, boats were 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.

“But there is an appeal I want to make here. We have been having issues with the UNICEF Rivers State field office, so we don’t mind, even if it is just one cubicle you create for us as UNICEF Bayelsa State office. We will be very happy if you can do that for us.”

In her remarks, the UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Ms.Cristian Munduate, applauded the Bayelsa State Government for prioritizing healthcare delivery services in the state, especially in the primary healthcare sector.

Ms 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 immunization.

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

In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of the Bayelsa Primary Healthcare Board, Dr. Williams Appah, said the formal handover of the ambulances marks a significant milestone in the primary healthcare delivery system and assured that the facilities would be put to best 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 the state government, and expressed the hope that with the provision of the ambulances, there would be improvement in immunization coverage and overall primary healthcare delivery in Bayelsa.