By Chioma Umeha
The Federal Government plans to scale up maternal and child health outcomes has received a boost with the launch of the phase one programme of implementation of a 70 million Euro (23 billion naira) grant which is a support from the European Union (EU).
The fund is also targeted to strengthen the country’s primary healthcare systems and eradicate the polio virus.
The Project is the phase 1 – 70 million euro support from the EU to the health sector under the 11th European Development Fund.
It will be jointly implemented by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the target States.
The Federal Government in collaboration with EU, UNICEF and WHO signed the project in Abuja, on Thursday.
The goal is to expand maternal and child health outcome in Bauchi, Adamawa and Kebbi States and also to strengthen health system in Anambra and Sokoto states respectively.
50 million euros of the grant disbursed through UNICEF aims to ensure that by 2020, 80 per cent of the wards in Adamawa, Bauchi and Kebbi states will have a functional primary health care centre, providing round-the-clock services to three million children under the age of five as well as almost a million pregnant women and lactating mothers.
20 million euros, disbursed through WHO will support the strengthening of health care systems towards achieving universal health coverage in Anambra and Sokoto States. The project will also support efforts to eradicate polio permanently from Nigeria.
“The European Union is working together with the Nigerian authorities to address developmental challenges in key priority areas under its 11th European Development Fund. This project will help to improve access to effective health and nutrition in the prioritised states and support the final push to eradicate polio in Nigeria,” Michel Arrion, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and to ECOWAS, said at the event.
“The focus is especially on providing services to poor, marginalized, rural women and children, saving the lives of mothers and children and improving their health and nutrition through a sustainable primary health care delivery system.”
Thanking the EU for the grant, Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu, WHO Country Representative, said, “Our partnership with the EU will enable the organisation to continue providing the necessary technical support to the Government of Nigeria towards strengthening the health systems and enhancing timely interventions during supplemental immunisation activities, including reaching children in areas with insecurity in the northeast.
Nigeria did not meet the Health and Nutrition-related Millennium Development Goals at the end of
Ten per cent of the global burden of maternal deaths is recorded in Nigeria. On average 33 per cent of children in Nigeria are stunted as a result of malnutrition with much higher figures, above 50 per cent, in northern Nigerian states. The detection of four wild poliovirus cases last year, after two years without a recorded case, has returned Nigeria to the list of polio endemic countries.
However, systemic reforms and additional financing of the health system by the Government have led to some improvements, highlighted by the successful containment of the spread of the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
“Through this important project, we will build on what has already been achieved and continue to strengthen the health systems in these states,” said Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Nigeria Representative, adding, “This will help Nigeria on the road to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals agreed at the United Nations in 2015 by all the world’s nations, including Nigeria.”
At the Signing ceremony in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole , appreciated EU for keying into the present administration’s resolve to improve the Nigerian Health system.
The Minister also said that the Federal Government recognized the fact that paying attention to Primary Healthcare system where millions of Nigerians access healthcare is the key strategy towards improving the health of Nigerians.
Earlier in his remarks the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said that the fund would focus on pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five years of age.
“The direct beneficiaries include 2.7 million children under five years and 850,000 pregnant women in Adamawa, Bauchi and Kebbi States”