By; AMOS TAUNA, Kaduna.
Kaduna State Government, the United Kingdom (UK) Department for International Development (DFID), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have signed a new strategic partnership on health and governance.
The MoU is taking an important step towards stronger primary health care services in rural communities.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) would advance the implementation and transformation of the primary health care system in Kaduna State, and builds upon ongoing support by BMGF and DFID for polio eradication, routine immunization, family planning, and maternal and child health services.
Speaking during the signing of innovative four-year agreement focused on sustainable primary health care systems strengthening MOU at Government House, Kaduna, Thursday, United Kingdom Minister on International Development, James Wharton said the United Kingdom was committed to helping Nigeria to address the causes of and eliminate poverty, ensuring no Nigerian is left behind.
According to Wharton; “As part of wider multi-sector support at Federal and State levels, the UK Department for International Development has invested extensively in health care in Nigeria and Kaduna State, with a particular focus on primary healthcare, reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, immunization, HIV/AIDS, malaria and nutrition.
“This Memorandum of Understanding further strengthens the UK’s partnership with the Kaduna State Government and with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under a shared vision to improve health,” he said.
Ayo Ajayi, Africa Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said gaps in primary health care service delivery were a serious challenge for Nigeria, as demonstrated in the recent polio transmissions in rural areas of northern Nigeria.
Ajayi added, “Addressing these issues requires tackling the underlying system that delivers PHC – including and beyond the health centerlevel. The Kaduna State Government is prepared to do so and is paving the way for other States.
“Our Foundation applauds this effort which will enable the poor and vulnerable to access needed health services. We look forward to working in partnership with Kaduna State and the UK’s Department for International Development.”
On his part, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, while commending Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UK DFID for their support, said the MOU would strengthen and transform the primary health care system in the state.
“Health is one of the priority sectors for this government, and primary health care is critical to achieving our goal to deliver for Kaduna State citizens better health and ensure longer life expectancy.
“Our programs are structured to ensure that a pregnant woman does not die due to her inability to access quality services during pregnancy and childbirth, that a child is not lost from preventable diseases, that communities are not overburdened with endemic diseases, and that community linkages are harnessed and promoted,” he explained.
It would be recalled that, a recent state wide assessment in Kaduna had led to a new reform agenda by the state government to improve primary health care delivery.
The new partnership would support this agenda by working to address the root causes of poor performance in primary health care. This includes strengthening governance, accountability, the distribution of health care workers, financing and management processes, data systems, accessibility to essential medicines, as well as primary health care delivery.
Despite significant health investments, Nigeria continues to face high infant, child and maternal mortality rates.
Statistics from a 2013 Demographic and Health Survey highlight shows that only 32 per cent of women in Nigeria give birth in a primary health care facility, only 44 per cent of children in the country are fully immunized, and almost 60 per cent are under weight.