UHC Day: Save the Children Calls For Improved Primary Health Care Delivery in Nigeria

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By Akinleye Segun & Olumayowa Adeniran

As part of activities to mark the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day,  Save the Children Nigeria organized a media briefing with stakeholders at the Amber Residence Hotel, GRA, Ikeja, to commemorate with the global community.

The event, which had in attendance Civil Society Organisations, focused on ways of achieving a universal health coverage for all with a focus on Reproductive, Sexual, Maternal, New Born, Child and Adolescent Health (RSMNCAH).

The Lagos Advocacy and Communication Officer, Adetokunbo Lawrence, explained the challenges the UHC is facing in Nigeria and the roles the Save the Children has been playing in the global campaign on UHC.

Citing UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2016, Lawrence said that, “In Nigeria, under-five mortality rate is 109 per 1,000 live births; newborn mortality – 34 in 1000 while 62 percent of deliveries happen without the presence of of a skilled birth attendant; there are two skilled health workers for every 1,000 people (NDHS, 2013). In 2014, instead of the recommended 15 percent recommended by the Abuja Declaration, only 8 percent of the government budget was spent on health.”

She went further, “Driven by passion to see that no child dies from preventable diseases, Save the Children has continued to collaborate with the Governments of Lagos, Gombe and Kaduna states on a number of inventions, including the Health Workers Capacity Building (HCB) project. HCB is a three year project, spanning from June 2015 to May 2018, focused on building the capacity of health workers in Lagos state through several bouquets of training including Essential Newborn Care, Injections and Vaccines Management Training, Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI), amongst others.

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“At the global front and in Nigeria, Save the Children, has been at the cutting edge of the Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) global campaign. It has also been pushing for increased national commitment to, and investment in, UHC, by building universal, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health services (RMNCAH) at the primary health care level as the first priority and prioritizing the poorest and most marginalized groups.”

Lawrence concluded by calling for increased national commitment and investment towards UHC, by building RMNCAH services across board.

She said, “Our call to governments, donors, development partners and all stakeholders is to: guarantee an essential package of RMNCAH services as the first priority for UHC; free at the point of use and accessible to all; establish time-bound equity targets for accelerated progress among the poorest and most marginalized and excluded people, so no one is left behind; increase public spending on health care to at least recommended minimum levels; improve quality and promote respectful and dignified care in health facilities; and fully implement th National Health Act.”

To buttress her points, the Area Operations Manager for Save the Children Nigeria in Lagos state, Roy Chikwem, also called on all stakeholders to join hands in improving the health care delivery for mothers and children in the country.

He said, “We need to do more to improve health care delivery for mothers and children in the country as the figures reflect high numbers of deaths among under-fives.”

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