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NGF Secretariat pledges to help strengthen Nigeria’s health systems

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF)  Secretariat said on Wednesday it would continue to provide a reliable and solid platform for interventions that would help strengthen the nation’s health systems. 

Director-General of the NGF, Asishana Okauru, made the pledge  in Abuja at the opening of the Consensus-Building Meeting for Commissioners of Health and Executive Secretaries of States Primary Health Care Boards (SPHCBs) from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on the implementation of the Primary Health Care Under One Roof  (PHCUOR) policy.

Okauru who identified the effective implementation of the PHCUOR policy in all the 36 states of the federation as one of NGF’s priorities, said the current situation where Nigeria was ranked as the second highest in the world for both maternal and under 5 mortality rate in the world was unacceptable.

He was of the view that a good proportion of these deaths are from preventable causes that could be averted if the nation’s primary health care system is strengthened, adding that the state governors were concerned about this high mortality and were keen on seeing this trend reversed.

According to Okauru, in line with our objectives, the NGF secretariat has been working in close partnership with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and other stakeholders towards the implementation of the PHCUOR policy.

He said the NGF has three key strategic objectives in health. “The first is to promote partnerships between state governments and federal level ministries, departments and agencies involved in health. This will facilitate the implementation of health policies at the sub-national level. The second objective is to promote the implementation of the Abuja Declaration of apportioning 15% of the state budget to health. Some states have been able to achieve this; we hope to see more states achieve this in the coming years. Thirdly, the NGF hopes to promote the development of pro-poor financial protection schemes across the states to ensure Universal Health Coverage.”

While explaining that the Consensus-Building Meeting was a follow up to the last experience sharing meeting organized by the NGF Secretariat in June, 2017, which brought together all the Executive Secretaries of the SPHCBs and the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Okauru said the NGF was committed to effective prim careary Health systems in all states of the federation and that resolutions of the meeting would be presented to the state governors for consideration.

“During the event, bottlenecks to the implementation of PHCUOR were discussed. One of the resolutions from the meeting was that it was important to bring together the Honourable Commissioners of Health and the Executive Secretaries of State Primary Health Care Boards. We believe that this is an important avenue for discussing the identified bottlenecks in PHCUOR implementation and building consensus on strategies for overcoming them. It will also build upon the discussions that were held at the recently concluded National Council on Health meeting,” Okauru said.

According to the Director-General, the NGF overall strategy is anchored on collaborative action, peer pressure, peer learning and advocacy. “In today’s event, some states that have achieved progress in certain components of the PHCUOR implementation will share their experiences, lessons and best practices.”

He thanked the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) for not only supporting the event but more importantly for the positive impact it had made in the country’s healthcare delivery space. “We also wish to thank the Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED) who has partnered with us in organizing this event and for provision of technical support to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.”

There will goodwill messages from a representative of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Co-ordinator of forum of Commissioners of Health in Nigeria, Dr. Nicholas Azinge; Executive Director/CEO of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib;  Chairman of Executive Secretaries’ Forum, Dr. Abdullahi Dauda and the Chairman of NHED, Dr. Shehu Sule, among others.

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