Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu
The Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu has expressed the optimism that with the level of achievement in the health sector by the apex health ministry, he has no doubt whatsoever that the country would be able to achieve some health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the year 2015.
The minister who made the statement at a recent media parley in Lagos said: “With the advent of the National Strategic Health Development Plan (NSHDP), the health sector is repositioned to institute and implement result-oriented programmes within the context of the MDGs and national targets as enshrined in the National Vision 20:2020.
“The National Strategic Health Development Plan is the 5-year plan of the Nigerian health sector which serves as the overarching reference development document for the actions of ALL stakeholders in health.
“It commits everyone towards delivery on a shared Results Framework, to which each party will be held accountable for achieving the goals and targets as contained in the Results Framework. In addition, the Saving One Million Lives initiative which was launched in 2012 as a coordinating mechanism to save one million women and under-five children before the 2015 MDGs deadline has been part of the process to achieve the MDGs target date.”
He added: “State level governments across Nigeria are implementing several innovative programmes targeted at the most vulnerable segments of their populations in the most hard to reach locations, all in a bid towards accelerating progress on the MDGs. We are also upscalling the universal health coverage strategies to ensure that service is accessed at all locations.
“No doubt, Nigeria has made considerable advancements towards achieving the benchmarks on the health-related MDGs since the year 2000, when Nigeria was part of the United Nations General Assembly that adopted the Millennium Declaration.’’
He explained that the MDGs are intended to bring together developing and developed countries in partnership to reduce poverty, ensure gender equality, combat environmental degradation, and improve access to social services, especially education, maternal and child health care, nutrition, safe drinking water and sanitation, as well as combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other communicable diseases.
The minister noted however that following the MDGs declacration, Nigeria did not immediately embark on any targetted set of activities towards achieving the MDGs. This was largely attributed to the huge debt over-hang at the time. However, following the debt-relief granted Nigeria by the Paris Club of creditors in 2005, Nigeria began a focussed implementation of activities towards the accelerated achievement of the MDGs beginning in the year 2006, with 1990 as the base year and 2015 as the target year.
The Debt Relief was earmarked to be used specifically as additional funding to existing Government funded projects and programmes directed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Consequent upon the availability of the debt relief grant (DRG), the Federal Government identified ministries and agencies whose mandates directly impact poverty and development to serve as vehicles for the administration of the MDG-DRG grants to the people of Nigeria.
Every year, DRG funds according to him are appropriated to these key federal ministries and agencies. Accordingly, from 2006, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) as one of such ministries receives annual budgetary support from the debt relief grant as additional funding to support selected programmes and projects with a view to accelerating the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
‘’With this fund, the Federal Ministry of Health has implemented several Health-MDGs targeted interventions which have impacted positively on health MDG outcomes,’’ he noted.