To make progress, Nigeria needs a healthy society, says Dangote

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By Sola Ogundipe

Nigerian Business mogul and Africa’s richest man, Mr. Aliko Dangote, has called for the realisation of a healthy Nigerian society to enable the country advance forward as a developed sovereign nation.

Dangote, who spoke weekend at the Summit of the Private Sector Health Alliance while inaugurating the Nigeria Health Innovation Market, NHIM, Steering Committee, called for viable partnerships between the Nigerian private sector and Federal government to enable the country attain targets of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs.

“There is no way we can progress without a healthy society even when you look at it from the business point of view. Having a very healthy society is very important and key for us to be able to move the country forward.

“I can see no reason why we cannot meet the targets of the MDGs, so the private sector must team up and partner with government so that we can deliver on our MDGs,” he remarked.

Admonishing the private sector, Dangote noted: “It is really very important for the private sector to continue collaborating with the Federal government. I see no reason why we sit down comfortably in our air-conditioned offices and aesthetic homes while we are losing  lives annually. It is unacceptable. “The rule of justice will catch up with us if we fail to act. Let’s stop too much talking and begin to deliver. No matter what is the innovation, unless there is commitment, we will not be able to deliver.

Dangote called for seriousness on the part of government. He said government has to be ready and willing to get support so that the deliveries can be obtained.

In her keynote address on Leveraging Innovation and Technology to Improve Health Outcomes, Minister for Communication Technology, Mrs.Omobola Johnson said what Nigeria requires to meet her health related MDGs is significant.

“Under-five child mortality rate must decline by at least 9 percent year-on-year, and our maternal mortality ratio, which decreased at a rate of 4 percent from 1990 to 2006, must further reduce by at least 9 percent year-on-year to attain the MDG goal.”

Johnson cited Ethiopia and Malawi as examples of African countries where governments have utilised ICTs to improve access to primary health care services as well as reduce infant and maternal mortality rates.  “The Ministry of Communication Technology sees itself as facilitating the objectives of health initiatives and the delivery of beneficial health outcomes in two principal ways – Connectivity and Content. We have learnt a lot of lessons about how to support and catalyse our fledgling innovation ecosystem and it is these lessons and this valuable experience that we will bring into our partnership with the PHN,” she remarked.

The 14-member Steering Committee, comprising high profile stakeholders who are experts in the areas of health, business, innovation and technology, is  headed the Group Managing Director, Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, while the CEO, Private Sector Health Alliance, Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq, acts as Secretary.

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