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NSSF Advocates Improved Transparency, Accountability in Nigeria’s Healthcare System

NSSF Advocates Improved Transparency, Accountability in Nigeria’s Healthcare System

Rebecca Ejifoma

Righting Our Story, a 110-page collection of short stories, poems, flash fiction and essays, is more than an anthology.

It is part of the WeNaija Literary Contest, an annual flagship programme of the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund (NSSF) aimed at mobilising young citizens to advocate improved transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s healthcare system.

Speaking at the book launch which was held in Lagos, the General Manager of NSSF, Dr Fejiro Chinye-Nwoko defined one of its goals as reskilling and retooling the Nigerian youths.

“We know COVID-19 showed us that the skills we have pre-COVID weren’t going to last us in the future. We needed more new skills; we needed Nigerian youths beyond classroom learning to get employable skills,” says Chinye-Nwoko. 

Building on its vision as an advocacy organisation for improving health outcomes in Nigeria, NSSF delivered 20 profound insights from exceptionally talented young Nigerians that envision a healthier Nigeria.

With each piece pitched from the writer’s point of view and including perspectives of Nigerian citizens on the state of the nation’s healthcare system, the NSSF GM admitted that Nigeria needed help.

She emphasised: “Righting Our Story shows Nigeria’s realities, undeniable truths straight from the horse’s mouth, lived experiences of young Nigerians. Many are presented as fiction, but it does not change the fact that Nigeria needs help.”

For Chinye-Nwoko, if a reader connects with just one of the articles in the book, their goal would have been met. “If it motivates someone to act and as a result lives are saved, or a challenge in the healthcare system is made right, then mission accomplished.”

Meanwhile, during the 30-minute panel session addressing the Gaps in Transparency and Accountability in the Healthcare System in Nigeria, the Commissioner of Health, Ogun State, Dr Tomi Coker encouraged Nigerians to support the government through tax paying.

“His Excellency, Governor Dapo Abiodun, the principle is to look at the policies that we have in place that could affect patients’ care and patients’ safety. 

“We have revamped those policies. We are making sure that we standardise we have three pillars we have stood on – infrastructure, equipment, and human resource,” she outlined.

Coker added that while the Ogun state government put health insurance in place for sustainability, “As citizens, we urge you to support the government by paying your tax. Do your bid and hold us accountable”.

On her part, the Chief Launcher and Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Dr Ajoritsedere Awosika harped on the need for Nigeria to emphasise systems and be accountable one to the other. 

She highlighted: “Accountability is about mutual respect. As a health worker, wherever you find yourself, anyone coming to your domain, you have to respect the patient, likewise to respect the health worker and all those caregivers in the hospital.”

Awosika, however, implored the incoming government to do a thorough epidemiology study. “Find out the primary ailments in every area. Take a data analysis of the disease condition. Find out what is primary in every area in the country.

“The country has about 9,556 wards. Find out if these wards have facilities. See how the structure can be improved and systems can be put in place. But most importantly, health insurance.”

She also commended NSSF, which seeks to leverage the contest to build participants’ capacity on the use of digital tools and applications to advocate for a stronger healthcare system in Nigeria.

This is as the organisation strives to provide a platform for youth between the ages of 15 and 35 to engage actively in advocacy in the healthcare sector, youth empowerment, and poverty alleviation. 

This they do by exploring Literature as a means for advocacy in transforming health outcomes in Nigeria and galvanising stakeholder cooperation and support across the public and private sectors.

As NSSF continues to support urgent aspects of the healthcare system and provide humanitarian support to those people whose lives are disrupted by COVID-19, it says it will do so by working closely with public institutions and private sector actors.  

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