By Edoamaowo Udeme
The Federal Government in partnership with the European Union, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, WHO, have signed a 70 million Euros European Development Fund support to scale up maternal and child health outcomes in Bauchi, Adamawa and Kebbi States and also to strengthen Health Systems in Anambra and Sokoto States respectively.
At the signing ceremony yesterday in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said the Federal Government recognised the need to pay attention to the Primary Healthcare system because it is the key strategy towards improving the health of Nigerians.
“Mr. President recently flagged off the Revitalization process of PHCs and called on all International Partners as well as individuals to support the effort and today EU has responded and we want to thank you for making it happen.
“At the end of this exercise, the EU would have strengthened 774 PHCs in the three States. Thus our target of revitalizing 10, 000 PHCs is on course and we are quite confident that we shall get there,” Adewole stated.
Of the funds, 50 million Euros will be disbursed through UNICEF and aims at ensuring that by 2020, 80 per cent of the wards in Adamawa, Bauchi and Kebbi States will have functional Primary Healthcare Centres, providing round-the-clock services to three million children under the age of five as well as almost a million pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Further, 20 million Euros will be disbursed through the WHO and will support the strengthening of health care systems towards achieving universal health coverage in Anambra and Sokoto States. The project will also support efforts to eradicate polio permanently from Nigeria.
Earlier in his remarks, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the fund would focus on pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under 5 years of age.
Ehanire said: “The direct beneficiaries include 2.7 million children under-5 years and 850,000 pregnant women in Adamawa, Bauchi and Kebbi States.”
“This project would help to improve access to effective health and nutrition in the prioritized states and support the final push to eradicate polio in Nigeria”.
Speaking at the occasion, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Michel Arrion said that the European Union is working with Nigerian authorities to address developmental challenges in key priority areas under its 11th European Development Fund.
‘’This project will help to improve access to effective health and nutrition in the prioritised states and support the final push to eradicate polio in Nigeria.
“The focus is especially on providing services to poor, marginalized, rural women and children, saving the lives of mothers and children and improving their health and nutrition through a sustainable primary health care delivery system.”
Arrion lamented Nigeria’s inability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4,5 and 6 as it would have greatly helped Nigerian women and children.
”There are too many health centres without water and power in the middle of nowhere, now that the government of Nigeria has passed the National Health Act, the next step in for us to deliver”.
Appreciating the gesture, WHO Country Representative, Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu, said: “Our partnership with the EU will enable the organisation to continue providing the necessary technical support to the Government of Nigeria towards strengthening the health systems and enhancing timely interventions during supplemental immunisation activities, including reaching children in areas with insecurity in the North East.”
Speaking on behalf of the Governors of the benefiting States, Bauchi State Governor, Barrister Muhammed Abubakar, said the aid was timely in these trying times when needs to develop the nation’s internal capacity was required.