By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The federal government has launched a revised national health promotion policy strategy document (2020-2024) to fast-track efforts at reducing the burden of diseases facing Nigerians.
Also presented to stakeholders Monday was the Knowledge Management Guidelines for health promotion (2020-2024) which is expected to serve as a one-stop knowledge hub within the health sector.
The health promotion strategy spells out how best to disseminate information on healthy practices across the country to achieve the goal of universal health coverage.
It aims at encouraging people to engage in healthy physical exercises and lifestyle that help to boost their health so as to reduce illnesses and frequent need for hospital treatment.
The health policy document also spells out collaborative roles of various line ministries, like Education, Information, Environment, Women Affairs, Youth and Sports Development, Water Resources, Finance, Labour and Employment, Science and Technology, Defence, Works and Housing and Urban Planning in ensuring the success of the programme.
Speaking at the formal presentation of the policy document in Abuja on Monday, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the goal of the new policy is to empower Nigerians to take timely action in disease prevention, improving their health and well-being, as well as taking measures that ensure a healthy society.
He said the new policy demonstrates that the Ministry of Health is not only just concerned with treating illness, but attaining and sustaining good citizen health.
He said: “These policy documents will provide guidance for the empowerment of individuals, families, households, groups and communities, with appropriate information on helpful habits, steps and behaviours to maintain good health and reduce the burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, but also inform on the negative impact of certain practices.”
Ehanire said the implementation of the policy will be driven by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and coordinated by the Health Promotion Division of the Department of Family Health at the Federal Ministry of Health.
While emphasising the importance of the strategy, Ehanire said that available evidence shows that conditions under which people are born, grow, live, work and age, and the systems in place to handle ill health determine the overall health outcomes.
He further stated that health education in communities and settings such as schools, workplace and worship centres, present an opportunity to disseminate information on health and impart life skills that promote healthy and health seeking behaviours, which remain throughout life.
Speaking on the progress made so far, the minister said there has been modest advances in a few areas of health promotion programming, which include building capacity and an enabling policy environment, awareness creation, institutionalization at state level and baseline assessments, among others.
The Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunmibe Mamora, who highlighted the details of the new policy, said that it has become necessary for the ministry to put in place a mechanism that will ensure accurate, adequate and effective health information in the country.
Mamora said such data will facilitate timely action in disease prevention and control.
The media, which is considered as a key stakeholder in health policy advocacy, was represented at the launching by the Chairman of the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and Chairman, THISDAY Newspaper Group and Arise Television, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena.
Obaigbena, who was represented by the Editor of THISDAY Newspaper, Bolaji Adebiyi, said that the newspaper has been a notable voice in the advocacy for improved health conditions for Nigerians.
“We were in the forefront of the lobby to allocate the one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue earning to the health care sector. We will continue to support efforts at the development of the health sector,” he said.
Other stakeholders, like the World Health Organization (WHO), Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), National Orientation Agency (NOA) and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) all pledged their readiness to collaborate in seeing to the actualization of the policy goal of improved universal health coverage in the country.