By Edoamaowo Udeme
abuja—Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr Christopher Thorney, has disclosed that the Canadian government has earmarked $3.5 billion to advance the health of women and children in Nigeria.
The High Commissioner spoke during the Multi-Country Dissemination of the Rapid Access Expansion, RAcE, Project on Integrated Community Case Management of Childhood Illnesses, ICCM, in Abuja.
“Canada has a long history of working to improve the health of women and children in Nigeria.” noted Dr Thorney.
According to him, collaborative efforts were in the areas of polio eradication and other Maternal Newborn Child Health (MNCH) through Canada’s G8 initiative.
Thorney said: “The initiative on MNCH was followed by the 2015-2020 commitment to invest $3.5bn in related programs over five years. In 2016, 5.6 million children under the age of five died worldwide; to make that more understandable, that is about 15,000 child deaths per day. We also understand that three quarters of under-five mortality are also from leading causes such as diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia.
“Although most of the effective interventions for these diseases were known, simple and affordable, they were, however, often inaccessible to families who could not reach health facilities on time, especially within the crucial 24 hours.”
Thorney noted that progress in reducing child mortality worldwide had been gradual and in some cases stagnant or reversed, saying: “Unless we tackle the barriers that are preventing access to life saving treatment, we will always be at risk of losing the momentum we have gained. This is why Canada is proud of its support which has promoted the scale of Integrated Community Case Management (ICCM) in Nigeria, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger and Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Also, Wondi Alemu, Country Representative, WHO Nigeria, said the organisation was very proud of the work executed in Nigeria, Niger, DRC, Mozambique, Malawi on the ICCM.
“As to Nigeria, ICCM is a successful programme; I say a programme because it is a project that will last after this financing from the government of Canada. I believe the government and states ministries of health will take it up and replicate the strategy in other states,” he said.
According to Alemu, over 700 health workers implementing the ICCM had been trained with the support of WHO, under the direct supervision of states ministry of health.