Many Nigerians are currently suffering due to their inability to access quality health care or because of their inability to pay for health services as a result of poverty.
As a result of this, the United Nations International Children Education Fund, UNICEF has pledged to support and has also rebranded its commitment to aid the Nigerian health sector towards enhancing and improving child health and maternity, revitalization of Primary Healthcare system and strengthening immunisation in the country.
The Deputy Executive Director, Programme, UNICEF, Mr Omar Abdi made this known and clear while meeting with the Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. Isacc Adewole in Abuja.
Abdi said that Federal Ministry of Health and UNICEF have a long history of partnership in improving the healthcare system in Nigeria; however, their visit to the Minister was to ensure that their plans and UNICEF’s pledges were in line with the Hon. Minister’s priority and to renew their commitment.
Speaking further, a member of the delegation, Marie-Pierre POIRIER, UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Office, Dakar, Republic of Senegal said that UNICEF considered Nigeria as a very important country in West and Central African Region.
She said that the sharing of ideas between the Hon. Minister and UNICEF may proffer solutions to some of the numerous challenges facing the Nigerian health sector.
She said, “We sought for a conversation with you to hear your vision and strategy so that we can support it. We want to set specific objectives which would include immunisation component which may support the fight against polio in the country.”
“We want your guidance, we are in the process of shaping the next five years programme, so we want to make sure that what we want to do in the health sector in Nigeria is in line with your priority, but also we shall together define it in terms of actual result that we would achieve on children,” she added.
Responding, the Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole who appreciated the support of UNICEF and UNICEF’s pledges in the fight against polio, malnutrition, child survival, and prevention of mother to child HIV/AIDS transmission said that investing in Primary Health Care system at the community level was the only way to improve the health indices of Nigeria.
“When you look at our healthcare indicator, our problem is not the rich, not the educated, 95% of educated Nigerians receive antenatal care, 20% of the poor receive antenatal care. So if we want to truly address maternal mortality, we must focus on the rural and the poor, same goes for immunization, the rich can take care of themselves, they can take the next available flight out of Nigeria to access care but the poor have nowhere to go,” Adewole stressed.
The Minister urged the UNICEF to support in building capacity of Health Extension Workers working at the Primary Health Care centres in the communities. This, according to him, would help in attaining the objective of Saving One Million Lives Programme for Result Initiative aimed at improving the health of children and mothers.