By Chioma Obinna
The United Kingdom’s Department of Health and Social Care is committing £2 million to support the Nigerian government in strengthening her health workforce in its vision to achieve Universal Health Coverage, UHC.
Welcoming the new funding commitment in a press statement, the World Health Organisation, WHO, who mended the move said the grant will cover two years’ period to support the government of Nigeria to optimize the performance, quality, and impact of the health workforce through evidence-informed policies and strategies.
The UK provided a multi-million-pound boost to support healthcare staff recruitment and retention in three African countries – Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana – supporting resilience against global health challenges.
Nigerian health system like many countries in the global south has been beset with challenges in having a resilient health system that is able to provide quality health services, promote health and prevent diseases. The challenges have been further exacerbated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic which directly impacts the availability of health workers to provide quality services across the country.
Commenting on this, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr Richard Montgomery said: “A skilled, well-motivated and adequate health workforce is critical for Nigeria to #EndPreventableDeaths and build resilience against global threats.
“This UK International Development funding aligns with the Nigerian health workforce strategic plan and will help the country upskill its workers, and improve health outcomes in the long run.”
The 2-year HRH project aims to support the government at national and sub-national levels and support regulatory bodies, professional associations, and other key stakeholders to develop transformative strategies for scaling up the quantity and quality of health workers, including competency-based curricula development and reviews.
It will help to align investment in HRH with the current and future needs of the population and health systems; strengthen the capacity of institutions including regulatory bodies for effective public policy stewardship, leadership and governance, optimise health workers’ retention, equitable distribution, and performance and strengthen the management of Health workforce data for monitoring and accountability. The project will implement interventions in Nigeria.
The project will draw on the technical capacity of WHO to strengthen health systems including experience of implementing similar projects with appreciable results in the past. Implementation at sub-national levels with a focus on 6 states of Cross River, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, and Lagos, will build on the presence and technical support being provided to State governments through the 37 WHO sub-national offices in Nigeria.
Speaking, WHO Representative in Nigeria., Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo said: “The strength of every health system reflects the capacity and adequacy of its health workforce, which are necessary to deliver quality services to address population health needs.
“For a resilient and effective health system, Nigeria must have adequate numbers of health workers who are fit for purpose, motivated to perform, and equitably distributed across the subnational levels to enhance equity in access to their services by the population in need.
“Through the UK government’s generous support through WHO, we will deploy the technical support from the 3 levels of the organization to support the development of evidence-based policies and strategies, capacity building and management for improved planning and management of Nigeria’s health workforce”.