The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The SDGs which are aimed at transforming our World have tagged the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Paramount within the SDGs is the SDG goal 3 that focuses on good health and wellbeing for all people with the aim of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well- being at all ages.
Maternal and infant mortality rate has been a cause for concern globally in recent years but with policies and directives under this SDG goal, the global under-five mortality rate decreased by 47 percent from 78 deaths per 1,000 live births to 41 deaths per 1,000 live births between 2000 and 2016. This is still a herculean challenge as the number of children dying under the age of five is extremely high with 5.6 million deaths in 2016 alone and newborns as well as children from economically challenged homes accounting for most of those numbers. The SDG Goal 3 aims to reduce under-five mortality to as low as 25 per 1,000 live births. But if current trends continue, more than 60 countries will miss the SDG neonatal mortality target for 2030.
Currently, Nigeria is the highest contributor to maternal mortality in Central and Western Africa and contributes 14% to the global maternal mortality rate. According to UNICEF, a woman’s chance of dying from pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria is 1 in 13. The 2018 budget for health in Nigeria was 3.9% which is a cut from 4.16% and 4.23% allocated in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The result is that only N1,888 was spent on each citizen the whole year. Nigeria is currently rated 187th out of 191 countries in healthcare delivery globally.
Research also shows that Lagos state accounts for 24% maternal mortality rate in Nigeria where about 555 women out of 100,000 die annually as a result of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
Several factors have been attributed to this malaise, they include proximity of health facilities, delays resulting from the inadequate power supply, dearth of qualified medical personnel and inadequate drugs and consumables. It is this gap in the health sector of Lagos state that Babajide Olushola Sanwoolu’s mandate aims to fill.
Babajide Sanwoolu the APC gubernatorial candidate has worked with the progressive government of Lagos state (from the Tinubu era) and has years of solid experience behind him. Babajide Sanwoolu has a track record of performance in the public sector and has participated in major economic projects including the privatization and commercialization of several Federal Government-owned companies and parastatals. He also spearheaded the preparation and publication of the Lagos State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (LASEEDS). He is reckoned with as a natural leader with strong people skills and is well versed in the principles of inclusion and equal representation in the interest of all.
Babajide Sanwoolu has held positions in Lagos state as the acting honourable commissioner for Economic Planning and Budgets, commissioner for commerce & industry, Honourable Commissioner for Establishment, Training, and Pensions, Pioneer and Board Member, Lagos state security Trust fund and MD of the Lagos State Property Development Corporation. In the private sector, Babajide Sanwoolu has held Senior Management roles at Lead Merchant Bank, United Bank for Africa and First Atlantic Bank (now FCMB) and has entrepreneurial experience in the real estate, power and aviation sectors of the economy.
His manifesto for health in Lagos state is to champion the cause to reduce infant and maternal mortality rate in Lagos as well as expand the Lagos Health Insurance Scheme with a target of 500,000 households – 2.5 million enrolments by the fourth quarter of 2019. Also in the bid to meet up with the SDG goal 3, Babajide Sanwoolu will increase health spending from 8.86% to 15% of the budget, he will also expand the Lagos State Ambulance and Emergency Service coverage by increasing the number of ambulance points by 50% from 15 to 23.
Babajide Sanwoolu mandate will also ensure a minimum of 3 doctors, 3 nurses and 5 community health workers in all 345 PHCs by 2021 and also see to it that all 37 non-functional PHCs in the state are refurbished and adequately equipped to attend to maternal and infant challenges and other health issues. He will also expand programmes for vulnerable groups like the elderly and people with disabilities.
Babajide Sanwoolu’s vision for Lagos entails creating a Lagos Volunteer Corp to support the health sector, upgrade the sector into international standards enough to reverse the national problem of medical tourism, speedily deliver medical parks, support LASUTH to become a medical Centre of Excellence in at least 2 specialities and also reposition the Renal Dialysis Centre to fulfil its function as the leading facility in the country.
These policies though very ambitious are achievable and laudable as a vision of a man with purpose and determination. If Babajide Sanwoolu can revert the climbing numbers of maternal and infant mortality to near zero, he would have achieved a noble feat and will be fondly remembered in the hearts of Lagosians for years to come.