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FG laments Nigeria’s health indices

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By Abraham Adekunle

Despite huge expenditures for Aids/HIV, the government seeks collaboration.

Nigeria is faced with many health issues in different regions. In fact, it can be argued that this is one of the reasons why citizens seek greener pastures overseas. Nigerians in the diaspora do not hold back in relishing in the improved healthcare abroad. Little wonder that the Federal Government of Nigeria has revealed that the country has one of the worst health indices on earth. This can be seen in the statistics coming from the nation.

According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), health indicators in Nigeria are some of the worst in Africa. The agency has highlighted HIV/AIDS cases, malaria infections, and maternal and child health. Nigeria has the second largest number of people living with HIV globally, accounting for nine percent of global HIV burden. More than one million children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV receive care and support through USAID programs. Of course, Nigeria also has the highest burden of malaria globally. This has remained the top cause of child illnesses and death.

Minister of health said FG seeks collaboration with traditional leaders.

The current infant mortality rate for Nigeria in 2023 is 54.740 deaths per 1000 live births. This is a 2.63 percent decline from the 2022 rate. Having all these in mind, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, disclosed that the country has the worst indices in the world at the inauguration of the South-South Traditional Leaders Committee (SSTLC) on Primary Health Care Delivery. The event was organized by the Federal Ministry of Health in conjunction with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and held in Benin City.

Dr. Ehanire said working with the various communities’ traditional and religious leaders would help broaden their subjects’ knowledge in accepting vaccines and other medical aids that would help improve their health conditions. He said that Nigeria fares worse regarding child/maternal and even road traffic accidents despite considerable government expenditure on health. Most of these happen in rural areas with no healthcare but with plenty of ignorant people. “To change these things, we must win the people’s trust, confidence and acceptance of government health interventions to save lives and reduce illness,” he said.

Ehanire highlights how traditional rulers can facilitate the collaboration.

He said that he is sure that His Majesties and Highnesses wish that things change. He said that these traditional rulers play a pivotal role in social and behaviour change communication and mobilization. This is because they know the fears, aspirations, and needs of the people at the grassroot level. They also enjoy the trust and respect of their position, which makes their institutions invaluable in the government’s efforts to move the needle in basic healthcare delivery in Nigeria.

Honorable Minister Dr. Ehanire is confident that the soon-to-be-inaugurated committee will harness the knowledge and experience in community mobilization, health promotion, and disease prevention and surveillance, to improve interest and trust in primary health care service in South-South zone in particular, and Nigeria at large. “We believe the partnership will bridge the gap between the people and the health system, and ensure no one is left behind in the journey to universal health coverage,” he said. He also assures continuous improvement in availability and quality of care, with the cooperation of state and local governments.

SSTLC is a zonal coordination platform for traditional rulers.

NPHCDA Executive Director, Faisal Shuaib, said the intent is for traditional fathers to meet quarterly to receive updates on the status of primary health care in their states from the government through NPHCDA; discuss their state’s best practices and challenges if any; share experiences on how best each state can improve the quality and uptake of immunization services (polio, routine immunization and COVID-19 vaccination), and other Primary Health Care (PHC) services. In turn, the agency expects continuous and intensive support in the areas of role modelling, community advocacy, sensitization, resource mobilization, and monitoring of all primary health care interventions such as immunization campaigns (polio, COVID-19, measles, yellow fever, etc.), routine immunization, maternal, newborn care, and childhood nutrition.

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