The United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) says it has renewed its commitment to support the Nigerian health sector towards improving maternal and child health, strengthening immunization and revitalization of Primary Healthcare system in the country.
The Deputy Executive Director, Programme, UNICEF, Mr. Omar Abdi made this known while meeting with the Nigerian Minister of Health Prof. Isacc Adewole in Abuja.
He said that UNICEF and Federal Ministry of Health have had a long history of partnership in improving healthcare system in Nigerian, but that their visit to the Minister was to renew their commitment and to ensure that their plans were in line with the Minister’s priority.
Speaking further, member of the delegation, Marie Pierre POIRIER, UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Office, Dakar, Republic of Senegal said sharing ideas between the Minister and UNICEF may offer solutions to some of the numerous challenges confronting the Nigerian health sector.
She said; “we sought for a conversation with you to hear your vision and strategy so that we can support it, we want to set specific objectives, which would include immunization component which may support the fight against polio in the country.”
“We want your guidance, we are on the process of shaping the next five years programme, so we want to make sure that what we want to do in the health sector in Nigeria is in line with your priority, but also we shall together define it in terms of actual result that we would achieve on children”, she added.
Responding, the Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole who appreciated the support of UNICEF in the fight against polio, child survival, prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS and nutrition said that investing on Primary Health Care system at the community level remained the focus of the ministry and the only way to improve the health indices of the country.
“When you look at our healthcare indicator, our problem is not the rich, not the educated, 95 % of educated Nigerians receive antenatal care, 20% of the poor receive antenatal care, so we want to truly address maternal mortality, we must focus on the rural and the poor, same goes for immunization, the rich can take care of themselves, they can take the next available flight out of Nigeria access care but the poor have nowhere to go”. Adewole stressed.
The Minister urged UNICEF to support in building capacity of Health Extension Workers working at the Primary Health Care centers in the communities; this according to him would help in achieving the objective of Saving One Million Lives Programme aimed at improving the health of mothers and children.