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Saraki Hosts World Bank Group, Discusses Health Issues

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Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki has called on the international financial institutions to intervene in saving the nation’s health sector so as to prevent further waste of lives through maternal and infant mortality.

Saraki spoke during a strategic breakfast meeting he hosted in honour of the World Bank Group.

The group was led by Ms Nicole Klingen and the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) headed by his wife, Mrs. Toyin Saraki as part of efforts to stimulate discussion on key solutions to systemic failures in the nation’s public health care system.

He said that all avenues to improve on provision of facilities, manpower and service delivery in the crucial sector should be, explored.

In her own speech at the occasion, Mrs Saraki who is President of WBFA called on the Federal Government to increase budgetary allocation to the health sector to help fight the alarming rate of maternal and infant mortality in the country.

She decried a situation where an estimated 900,000 women and children still die annually in the country from preventable diseases.

Mrs. Saraki said: “It is evident… that far too many newborns, children, adolescents, and women in Nigeria still die from preventable conditions every year, and far too few have reliable access to quality health services.

“To address this, it is imperative that increased focus be placed on client-held personal health records – which will facilitate the much needed accountability in the health care system as enshrined the joint World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank Group ‘Roadmap for Measurement and  accountability in Health’ guidelines; the invaluable role of midwives; and the critical need for increased access to universal health coverage.”

She further lamented that, “currently, an estimated 900,000 mothers and children die each year in Nigeria – positioning the country as the second highest contributor to maternal and under-5 deaths globally, second only to India.”

On the strength of regional and global advocacy, according to her, “the Wellbeing Foundation Africa has facilitated accessible and affordable health care for all, with a special emphasis on women and children.

“In addition to encouraging proper nutrition, adequate immunization and preventive healthcare for the populace, particularly those in the rural communities, the Foundation is fighting the high maternal and infant mortality problem facing Nigeria through advocacy; multi-sector partnerships; behaviour change communication and social media interactions; Emergency Obstetrics & Newborn Care (EmONC) skills delivery and training projects; and civic engagement to improve education.

“Taking tangible steps to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) indices in Nigeria, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa and its leadership is seeking the political commitment of the Nigerian legislature in advocating for more domestic resources for RMNCAH issues.”

She further added that “Working with Federal Government of Nigeria’s Saving One Million Lives Program, which empowers the Nigerian health sector to contribute equitably to the economic and social development of the nation, and the Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) initiative’s Global Financing Facility (GFF), which aims to accelerate efforts to end preventable maternal, newborn, child and adolescent deaths, and improve the health and quality of life of women, adolescents and children – the Wellbeing Foundation Africa continues to seek innovative ways to improve health outcomes for mothers and children through enhanced service delivery models.”

On her part, the leader of the World Bank Group, Ms. Nicole Klingen, commended Mrs. Saraki for the efforts of the WBFA aimed at ameliorating the scourge of maternal and infant mortality in the country.

Klingen stated that part of the objectives of the World Bank Group is to ensure sustainable health care delivery in Nigeria and Africa at large.

She called on governments at all levels to complement the efforts of other stakeholders in the sector aimed at ensuring sustainable medical attention as at when due most especially to the vulnerable.

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