By Hassan Zaggi
The Federal Government has expressed its commitment to achieve global targets including Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) despite the impact of COVID-19.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this at the formal launch of the Nigeria Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent and Elderly Health Plus Nutrition (RMNCAEH+N) multi-stakeholder partnership coordination platform, in Abuja, on Monday.
The purpose of the multi-stakeholder coordination platform, the Minister explained, is to harness the strength of diverse stakeholders and to leverage resources for the maximisation of outcomes and attainment of a shared vision for Nigerians, particularly women, children, adolescents and the elderly.
Prominent among the members of the platform is Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN).
AHBN is an alternate Board Member of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) and Co-Chair of PMNCH Country Engagement Working Group.
The terms of reference of the group, Ehanire said, included providing leadership and strategic direction to the overall delivery of quality RMNCAEH+N services in Nigeria; mobilising, leverage and harness financial and technical domestic and international resources for enhanced RMNCAEH+N programming; supporting partnership and coordination at global, regional, national, and subnational levels, in all issues towards improvement of RMNCAEH+N; supporting building a resilient health system to sustain delivery of essential RMNCAEH+N health services during any epidemics or other public health emergencies and ensuring effective documentation, data management and knowledge management including mutual accountability around RMNCAEH+N in Nigeria.
Lamenting about the poor health indices of the country, the Minister said: “The health of Nigerian women and children has not fared too well.
“You may be aware of Nigeria’s poor health indices; the maternal mortality ratio is 512 per 100,000 live births, perinatal mortality rate is 49 per 1,000 live births, neonatal mortality is 38 per 1,000 live births, infant mortality is 67 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality is 132 per 1,000 live births (NDHS 2018).
“Female genital mutilation (FGM), gender-based violence (GBV), teenage pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy and unsafe abortion among adolescents, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 on the elderly, have all become major public health emergencies.
“An increase in the prevalence of wasting among children due to malnutrition, indicates that a lot still needs to be done.”
According to Ehanire, some progress has been made over the last decade through what he described as combined efforts of multiple players.
“It is sad to note the setback witnessed in our already fragile health system as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which negatively impacted all aspects of development.
“Despite the pandemic, we are unrelenting in our push to achieve global targets,” the Minister stressed.