A brief history of Colleges of Health Technology in Nigeria
Colleges of Health Technology (CHT) were first established in the late 1970s as part of Nigeria’s Basic Health Services Scheme to train a new cadre of Public Health Care (PHC) workers to staff the basic health units in the country.
Because Colleges of Health are the only school that train professionals who are close to the grassroots to meeting the health needs of the larger populations at primary healthcare, the focus of WHO has been to ensure they are well paid. That is why you hear names like CONHESS, HATTIS etc.
In 1960, there was no strong focus on health systems development. Policymakers and political actors made efforts to establish and expand healthcare infrastructures with more emphasis placed on curative medicine rather than preventive medicine.
From 1975 to 1980, health system development was initiated with PHC as the cornerstone. The National Basic Health Services Scheme (NBHSS) was developed based on a PHC approach (1). Unfortunately, the NBHSS program could not achieve its goals due to implementation challenges; hence, PHC services were not delivered across Nigeria.
In 1985, Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti was appointed the Minister of Health. Professor Ransome-Kuti adopted PHC in 52 local government areas as models based on the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1978.
The role of Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti
Between 1986 and 1992, remarkable and innovative progress was made in the development of Primary Health Care, focusing on the Local Government Areas (LGAs).
From 1986 to 1990, Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti expanded PHC to all local governments, achieved universal child immunization of over 80%, and devolved responsibility for PHC to local government areas. Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti worked assiduously between 1985 and 1992 to implement PHC policy based on the Alma-Ata Declaration for the benefit of the Nigerian population. Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti introduced:
- a comprehensive national health policy with a focus on PHC
- placed emphasis on preventive medicine and healthcare services at the grassroots
- ensured exclusive breastfeeding practice
- introduced free immunization to children
- encouraged the use of oral rehydration therapy by nursing mothers
- made compulsory the recording of maternal deaths
- and encouraged continuous nationwide vaccination and pioneered an effective HIV/AIDS campaign
In 1992, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) was established following the recommendation of a high level WHO review team through Decree 29 of 1992 and merged with the National Programme on Immunization (NPI) in 2007. To ensure that the success of PHC is maintained in Nigeria, Colleges of Health Technology (CHT) were first established in the late 1970s as part of Nigeria’s Basic Health Services Scheme to train a new cadre of Public Health Care (PHC) workers to staff the basic health units in the country. This is the mandate of CAHST and that is why we partner with many organizations to support the vision of the Government to fund this College to provide our students access and opportunity to become a professional and at the same time promote healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
Current challenges facing primary healthcare in Nigeria
The current state of the PHC system in Nigeria is appalling with only less than 20% of the 30,000 PHC facilities across Nigeria working. Presently, most of the PHC facilities in Nigeria lack the capacity to provide essential healthcare services, in addition to having issues such as poor staffing, inadequate equipment, poor distribution of health workers, poor quality of health-care services, poor condition of infrastructure, and lack of essential drug supply.
Abuja Declaration of 2001
African heads of state pledged to set a target of earmarking at least 15% of their annual budget to improve the health sector. Many African countries, including Nigeria, still fall short of the Abuja Declaration of 2001 in spite of the pledge by heads of state of African Union countries.