By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah
The 36 states governors have raised the alarm over the high maternal and mortality rate in the country.
Lamenting the situation where Nigeria is ranked as the second highest in the world for both maternal and under 5 mortality in the world, they described the situation as unacceptable.
Recall that a United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) report revealed that 2,300 children below five years of age and 145 child-bearing women die every day in Nigeria.
This was disclosed by the Director General of the Nigeria Governor Forum secretariat, Asishana Okauru, at a NGF conference on strengthening primary healthcare system in collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) for top officials of healthcare institutions at the state level.
This is the second such conference by the forum and this one is tailor-made for Commissioners of Health and the chief executives of primary healthcare agencies in their states.
According to the Okauru, a good proportion of these deaths are from preventable causes that could be averted if the country’s primary health care system is strengthened.
He said the state governors are concerned about this high morality and are keen on seeing this trend reversed.
Okauru said “The NGF has three key strategic objectives in health. The first us to promote partnerships between state government and federal level ministries, department and agencies involved in health. This will facilitate the implementation of health policies at the subnational level.
“The second objective is to promote the implementation of the Abuja declaration of apportioning 15% of the state budget to health. Some states have been able to achieve this, we hope to see more states achieve this in the coming years.”
“The NGF hopes to promote the development of pro- poor financial protection schemes across the states to ensure universal health coverage”.
On his part, the executive director of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, called for action on the part of stakeholders in the health sector saying enough of talk shows.
According to him “One thing that we all agree on is that we can do better, when it comes to the indices that are often displayed when we talk about Nigeria and the health space.
“For a long time, we have been aware of these challenges, many of us in this room talk about this or that has not been done. We are here now, it is time for us to do it. There is nobody that can change the landscape in Nigeria better than the folks that are here, they are the ones that can make the difference.
“But making the difference also means we have to step aside from our roles as executive secretaries and focus on why we are here in the first place, we are here for Nigerians.
“Many of us will not be here in the next four years. I’m not a prophet of doom but that is exactly what is going to happen. And what will happen if you are not here? Will there be a change in your vision or assessment of what needs to be done.
He continued “Enough is enough. We have spent a lot of time in the last few decades talking on the things we want to do and then when the opportunity comes we focus on different sets of values.
“I hope in this meeting we will set aside our egos and work together to change the landscape of primary healthcare in our country. I have interacted with all the executive secretaries and our vision are all aligned as regards what we need to do.
“It is how we need to do and the commitment to set aside our differences that is going to make the difference and help us move forward when we talk openly about what the issues are, the implementation and reach a common understanding on how we want to move primary healthcare forward,” he said.