The federal health ministry is to ensure roll out of the Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Services (CHIPS) Programme nationwide, involving some 200,000 agents, the presidency has directed.

It comes after President Muhammadu Buhari launched a pilot of the programme at Kwandare, Lafia council area, on a state visit to Nasarawa on Tuesday.

He directed the health ministry to “synergise with other states to roll out the programme to enable the less-privileged and the rural dwellers to have access to health services.”

CHIPS, developed by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, aims to link health work force to rural and underserved communities in hopes of bridging gaps in access to health care.

It is a step away from the village health worker concept established by the agency, said health minister Isaac Adewole, adding the initiative was to improve and provide equitable coverage for essential health services especially those related to maternal and child survival.

“We hope that eventually the implementation of the basic health care provision fund will support this, but then we have a strong state support which is very significant,” he said.

Under CHIPS, agents will go from house to house to provide first aid care and health education, explained NPHCDA executive director Faisal Shuaib.

CHIPS agents selected from communities will stimulate residents to seek care in primary health centres closest to them.

“They will play roles of effective demand generation and health behaviour change communication, provide basic emergency services to households, support community surveillance, collect and transmit household level health-related information on a regular basis and so much more,” Shuaib said.

A full rollout of CHIPS could see some 200,000 agents working nationwide, making it the “largest aggregation of community health workers in Africa,” said Shuaib.

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