Low Cost Services for Women, Children, Adolescent on Basic Health, Nutrition

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Martins Ifijeh

The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole has announced that the federal government is committed to ensuring all Nigerians, particularly women, children and adolescents facing some of the most challenging circumstances, have access to basic health and nutrition services at the lowest cost possible.

The minister made this known recently at a forum put together by the Nigerian government, Global Financing Facility (GFF) and Partners, in Abuja, to co- finance efforts towards improving the health and nutrition of the poorest women, children and adolescents in the country.

Adewole said: “The GFF has created a new sense of awareness that we must put our money on the table for these essential investments in our people and use them in even smarter ways and that is something that has not been done before.

“Nigeria being the most populous country in Africa was facing big challenges; We are the single largest contributor to the global annual number of mortality rate; infant and child mortality rates are unacceptably high; total fertility rates have remained stubbornly high and has worsened nutrition outcomes in children as well as immunisation rates, especially among the poorest children.”

To this end, the minister expressed regret that such challenges had hugely outpaced government spending on health and nutrition, coupled with government spending in recent years being unable to reach those who needed them most, and doing little to reduce high and impoverishing out -of-pocket spending on health by poor Nigerians.

Adewole maintained that the grant from the GFF would co-finance early implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) with funds mobilised from the government and other contributors, starting in three states: Abia, Niger and Osun.

Following the start-up phase, the minister revealed that the federal government would provide most of the financing for the scale-up to the remaining 33 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Also speaking, the Director of the GFF, Mariam Claeson, said that Nigeria’s commitment to sustainably financing health and nutrition was a beacon for other countries, as they worked closely with the GFF to make sure the investment they made lasted for years to come.

‘’The government of Nigeria will make an enormous difference in the lives of millions of Nigerians by making a lasting investment in the health and nutrition of women, children and adolescents-the foundation of the society and the economy’’

In his remarks, the World Bank Country Manager for Nigeria, Rachid Benmessaoud, said that the government of Nigeria, with the support of the GFF, the World Bank and other partners were catalysing real change for the people of Nigeria.

“This investment in human capital will pay dividends in lives saved and improved and help build a stronger and more prosperous economy,” he noted.

He said GFF was investing a total of 47 million dollars in Nigeria, linked to 350 million dollars in funding from the International Development Association and the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, which had focused on scaling-up health services in North-east, Nigeria and accelerating nutrition results for women, children and adolescents in the country.

The GFF is a multi-stakeholder partnership that is helping countries tackle the greatest health and nutrition issues affecting women, children and adolescents. GFF is supported by governments of Canada, UK, Denmark, Japan, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Norway.