Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government, has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring access to affordable healthcare and robust social protection to member states of the Developing Eight (D-8) countries.
The Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, gave the government’s reassurance yesterday in Abuja during the signing of the Headquarters Country Partnership Agreement for D-8 Health and Social Protection Programme Office.
Dada expressed gratitude to D-8 member countries for the honour bestowed on Nigeria to host the Programme Office of the D-8 Health and Social Protection Programme, as well as the appointment of Dr Ado Muhammad as the Director of the Programme.
Dada added that health and social protection programme was an integral tool in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), noting that emerging trends such as climate change and the likes, continued to become an impediment to the developmental agenda of D-8 member countries, as well as the citizens.
“This has made member states to realise that more has to be done and that there are no shortcuts to sustainable development without investing in people.
“The adoption of the Health and Social Protection Programme by the D-8 member countries is therefore timely in assisting member states to reduce poverty and inequality, as well as boost healthcare delivery. This will undeniably bring about the desired growth that will facilitate structural transformation of our economies. It is, therefore, important that we as member states, continue to share our experiences towards making the programme a success.
“To this end, may I reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment in ensuring the success of this initiative, as well as the willingness to collaborate with other member states and other stakeholders in ensuring that all citizens receive access to affordable healthcare and robust social protection,” Dada said.
Dada further assured the D-8 countries of the government’s commitment to the vision and aspirations of the organisation.
In his remarks, the Secretary General of the D-8, Ambassador Dato’ Ku Jaafar Ku Shaari, said the signing ceremony was historic as it marked a watershed in the history of the organisation, being the broadening of its operational mandate into health and social protection.
The D-8 Secretary General added that the D-8 journey that started over 20 years ago, has led to quite some modest achievements, even as he said economic cooperation between member countries across several sectors such as trade, aviation, infrastructure, tourism and culture, amongst others, has improved and yielded dividends to member countries.
The health and social protection programme, he added, was structured in a way that resources will be leveraged from within the group, thereby reducing reliance on donor aid.
“In this regard, the launching of the D-8 Health and Social Protection (HSP) programme is designed to accelerate progress, especially in the context of SDGs 1, 2 and 3 which are critical indicators of living standards. I am happy to note that the health and social protection programme has been structured in such a manner that resources will be leveraged from within the group, the strong supporting the weak, thereby reducing reliance on donor aid,” the D-8 Secretary General said.
Shaari further said a central pillar in the programme was aligned to trade, which is a paradigm shift from aid dependency to trade, adding that the HSP programme hoped to unlock the market potential in health amongst member countries from which resources will be leveraged upon to fund the key intervention pillars of health, nutrition, and poverty.