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Toyin Saraki Calls for Universal Health Coverage

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…Says “We Cannot Operate In A Vacuum”

Wife of Nigeria’s Senate President, Toyin Ojora Saraki over the weekend delivered the keynote speech to SwitchPoint 2019 Conference in North Carolina, calling on attendees to consider what strategies needed to be implemented to ensure that healthcare workers can provide the necessary level of care at the right location, at the right time, at the right price – to get the right results.

The Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa delivered the keynote on the theme of ‘Every Woman, Every Child, Every Hour.’ It was described by Heather LaGarde, Producer of SwitchPoint 2019 as “a stunningly powerful keynote” which moved her to tears.

Drawing on her personal experience of childbirth and years of frontline programmes empowering healthcare workers and saving the lives of women and infants in childbirth, Mrs Saraki called on attendees to consider what strategies need to be implemented to ensure that healthcare workers can provide the necessary level of care at the right location, at the right time, at the right price – to get the right result.

She said: “A strong primary healthcare system is the key to providing safe births for all. A mother should be able to attend a local facility at the right time – not just when it is an emergency. It must also be at the right price: that means not searching for a benefactor for the cash when a mother is desperately waiting for a caesarean; but a comprehensive and affordable insurance system.

“If we can bring all of this together – the right conditions of hygiene, the right accountability, the right healthcare worker with the right training at the right healthcare facility – and the right ratio of healthcare workers to citizens –  we will have gone a long way to bringing Universal Health Coverage to people who need it the most.

“We will also have brought health and wellbeing to Every Woman. Every Child. Every Hour.”

Other session speakers included Jenny Eaton Dyer, Founder of the 2030 Collaborative, Dr Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO of Amref Health Africa, Emily Hillman, a senior innovation advisor in the Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact within USAID’s Bureau for Global Health, and Julia Bunting, President of the Population Council.

Mrs Saraki also co-chaired a ‘Micro-lab’ focus session on the topic of ‘Women First’ with Pape Gaye, President and Chief Executive Officer of IntraHealth International; Constance Newman, Senior Team Leader, Gender Equality and Health at IntraHealth International; and Stembile Mugore, Senior advisor for health sector performance and sustainability at IntraHealth International.

She is also Special Advisor to the Independent Advisory Group to the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa and the Global Goodwill Ambassador to the International Confederation of Midwives.

SwitchPoint is an annual meeting of hundreds of attendees from around the world, including non-profit and development professionals, corporate experts, educators, policy makers, innovators and social entrepreneurs.

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