By Chinenye Ezenwa
The Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), the continent’s leading maternal and child health charity, attended the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in New York, where the Foundation’s team continued their mission to increase investments in health infrastructure, while imploring national governments, the private sector and NGOs to commit to universal health coverage (UHC).
The WBFA works in Nigeria and in other parts of Africa, focusing on improving the livelihoods of women through advocacy, education and empowerment, in pursuit of the fulfilment of SDGs 3 and 5, across Africa.
The WBFA has dedicated its global policy advocacy at the 72nd UNGA to the massive gains that can be achieved by investing in primary healthcare and community health infrastructure, presenting evidence of the massive social and economic returns of strategic social impact investments.
Mrs. Saraki, who serves as International Confederation of Midwives Global Goodwill Ambassador and Chair of Nigeria’s Primary Health Care Revitalisation Support Group of 92 national civil society organisations advocating to Nigeria’s National Assembly that Government honours it’s 1% Consolidated Revenue Fund budgetary appropriation pledges to Health stated:
“The horror of the terrorism in North East Nigeria shocked the world, and rightly caused a strong government response. But there is another killer which is as lethal but less visible, and one the Government must act on also: the broken health care system, that means people die from illness that could have been prevented.”
“The impact of inadequate care is huge. According to the institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in 2015, alone malaria killed 192,284 people in Nigeria, diarrheal diseases killed 143,88 people and neonatal and maternal disorders killed 212,557 women and children died during pregnancy and childbirth.”
“These numbers add up to a crisis as dire and urgent as direct violence. Yet for every 1 Naira spent on health, 2.5 Naira is spent on defense. It is time the Government’s response to the crisis of poor health be as swift and aggressive as the response to national security threats.”
“Every year, roughly 100 million people globally are pushed into poverty due to catastrophic health costs, while only 1 in 5 people have social security protection that will cover lost wages in the event of illness.”
“In Africa, there is a population growth estimated to reach 2.5 billion by 2050, and a triple burden of communicable, non-communicable diseases and weak health systems.”
“Most countries have integrated UHC goals into their national health strategies; however, this has not translated into resource allocation or implementation.”
“Therefore, there is a need for renewed commitments and accelerated progress towards UHC in Africa, in order to eliminate preventable deaths, especially maternal and child deaths; strengthen resilience to public health emergencies; reduce financial hardship linked to illness; and strengthen the foundations for long-term inclusive, economic and sustainable growth.”
“An investment in health infrastructure and funded public service provision in upgrading primary health care to specialist referral standards is an investment in community health, and a step towards assuring fully funded and higher quality Universal Health Coverage. Frontline health conditions and non-communicable diseases are not gender specific or gender restricted, and investment in UHC is the most essential investment for health justice, social equity and holistic accountability, to deliver a demographic dividend”
WBFA currently delivers ante-natal and post-natal education to over 200,000 women in Nigeria through its Mamacare Classes and Maternal Monday Campaign, provides Kwara State healthworkers with specialist training in the emergency management of obstetric and newborn complications, and has been the driver of implementing widespread, client-held personal health records (PHRs) in Nigeria. WBFA’s Founder-President, Mrs. ToyinSaraki and the wider WBFA team have taken on the task of urging partners to invest in health infrastructure and to commit to Universal Health Coverage at a range of high-level events throughout the UNGA week, ensuring that relevant stakeholders are effectively engaged.