The journey of Nigeria to attain Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which has been difficult and its coordination which has been fraught with challenges may soon come to an end with the launch of the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent and Elderly Health Plus Nutrition (RMNCAEH+N) Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Coordination Platform.
The motto of the RMNCAEH+N Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Coordination Platform is “partnering for the wellbeing of women, children, adolescents and the elderly” which tallies with the objective of Universal Health Coverage which itself is aimed at leaving no one behind.
The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire launched the RMNCAEH+N Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Coordination Platform at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Monday, 12th October, 2020 declaring that “At least $252 million (two hundred and fifty-two million US dollars) will be required for full implementation of the Blueprint across Federal, State, Local government and community levels.”
While speaking before the launch of the stakeholder partnership coordinating platform, Dr. Ehanire has observed that “the health of Nigerian women and children has not fared too well” given Nigeria’s poor health indices where the maternal mortality ratio is 512 per 100,000 live births, prenatal mortality rate is 49 per 1,000 live births, neonatal mortality is 38 per 1,000 live births, infant mortality is 67 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality is 132 per 1,000 live births (NDHS 2018).
The report detailed by the Honourable Minister further showed that “Female genital mutilation (FGM), gender-based violence (GBV), teenage pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy and unsafe abortion among adolescents, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 on the elderly, have all become major public health emergencies.” He concluded the grim picture with additional observation that there is an “Increase in the prevalence of wasting among children due to malnutrition.” The Minister surmised that the aforementioned indicate that “a lot still needs to be done” by a combination of the authorities, stakeholders and partners to ameliorate the plight of Nigerians in the aspect of healthcare despite the modest but slow progress made over the last decade.
Dr. Ehanire said what would have been seen as progress was also besotted by the COVID-19 pandemic which further weakened Nigeria’s already fragile health system. He however said that “Despite the pandemic, we are unrelenting in our push to achieve global targets.”
“We have recorded some progress towards improvement of child survival and safe-motherhood through the provision of ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF) and sustaining the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) commitments to ensure availability of family planning services to women and adolescents of reproductive age. In the same vein, making the National Health Act, 2014 (NHAct) through the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) operational, will greatly improve access to quality health care, particularly at the primary health care (PHC) level.”
The Honourable Minister’s optimism was also anchored on the National Emergency Medical Treatment Committee (NEMTC) which he said will provide emergency medical transport for health emergencies including pregnant women, to facilitate access to emergency obstetric care at the time of need. “The provision of emergency transport alone has been demonstrated to reduce maternal mortality by as much as 50%”, the Minister said.
Dr. Ehanire declared that the vision of the RMNCAEH+N Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Coordination Platform is to be driven by key stakeholders which have an institutional mandate, passion and track record of work related to the wellbeing of women, children, adolescent and-or the elderly. He went on to reveal membership of the Coordination Platform as follows:-
The Head of the Department of Family Health and Heads of Programmes in Family Health in Federal Ministry of Health; The Heads of the Departments of Hospital Services; Health Planning, Research and Statistics; Food and Drugs Services; Public Health; Public-Private Partnership and Diaspora; and Special Projects in the Federal Ministry of Health.
Other members from the Agencies of the Federal Ministry of Health include:
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA); National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS); National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC); National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), and the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR).
The Honourable Minister of Health further listed other members from Heath and Health-Related Parastatals which include: The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA); The National Population Commission (NPopC); The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), and The National Orientation Agency (NOA).
There are yet other members from Health Regulatory Bodies which include: The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN); The Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN); The Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN); The Community Health Practitioners Regulatory Board (CHPRB), and The Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN).
Those from Line Ministries include: the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs; The Federal Ministries of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development; Education; Agriculture and Rural Development; Finance, Budget and National Planning; Communication and Digital Economy; and Information and Culture.
The Honourable Minister of Health directed that “Commissioners from States’ Ministry of Health will feature on rotational basis, having one per geopolitical zone together with the FCT Secretary of Health and the Chair of the Commissioners Forum.”
From the Legislature, Dr. Ehanire declared that “Parliamentarians will include the offices of the Chairs of the Senate and House Committees on Health” while from the Professional Associations, he included the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), the Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON); the Pediatrics Association of Nigeria (PAN); the Nigerian Society of Neonatal Medicine (NiSoNM); the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN); the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM); the Society of Family Health Practitioners of Nigeria (SOFPON); the National Association of Patent and Proprietary Medicines (NAPPMED); the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN); the National Association of Community Health Practitioners of Nigeria (NACHPN); the Guild of Medical Directors of Nigeria (GMD); the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria (MWAN); the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Nigeria; the Nutrition Society of Nigeria; the National Maternal and Prenatal Death Review and Surveillance (MPDRS), and the leadership of the programme-based technical working groups (Reproductive Health, Child Health, Adolescent Health, Elderly TWG).
From the ranks of Traditional Leaders, Dr. Ehanire requested representation from each geopolitical zone of the country while from the International and Development Partners, Donor Agencies and Foundations membership of the RMNCAEH+N Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Coordination Platform include the United Nations (UN) Group: the World Health Organization (WHO); the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); the World Bank, and the UN Women.
Members are also drawn from Bilateral organizations: the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF); the Department for International Development (DFID); the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD); the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and Global Affairs Canada; and Africa Health Budget Network.
The Coordinating Platform has provision for “an alternate Board Member of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) and Co-Chair of PMNCH Country Engagement Working Group.”
From the Civil Societies and Women Groups, membership of the RMNCAEH+N Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Coordination Platform is drawn from: National Council for Women Society (NCWS); National Advocates for Health; Representative of Youths and Adolescents; Representative of Women Groups; Representative of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs); HERFON.
From Faith-Based Organizations, membership of the RMNCAEH+N Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Coordination Platform was drawn from representatives of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN); the National Council on Islamic Affairs (NCIA); and the Nigerian Interfaith Action Association (NIFAA).
Membership was also drawn from Representative of Civil Society Coalition for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH); Legislative Network on Universal Health Coverage (UHC); Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Elder Persons in Nigeria; Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED); Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN).
The Media was not left out as membership of the RMNCAEH+N Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Coordination Platform was drawn from amongst them to include the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHeJ); Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ); Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWoJ); Centre for Communication and Social Impact; and International Society for Media in Public Health (ISMPH).
From the Organized Private Sector, and Unions, the followings were included as members of the Platform: Health Care Federation of Nigeria; and National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
Known Private Philanthropists were also ranked among the membership of the RMNCAEH+N Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Coordination Platform: the Dangote Foundation; the Tony Elumelu Foundation; and the TY Danjuma Foundation were listed.
The Director General of Nigeria Governor’s Forum was also listed as a member of the RMNCAEH+N Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Coordination Platform.
Dr. Osagie Ehanire said the work of the members of the Platform which will begin Tuesday, 13th October, 2020 will mostly be through Committees whose meetings will mostly be virtual.
There were partners who featured prominently through their statement of commitments, collaborative remarks and Legislative remarks at the launch. The Royal Fathers – the Sultan of Sokoto (represented), Obi of Onitsha, the Sheu of Borno and the Ooni of Ife want FG to have clear roles for traditional rulers as well as for FG to note that IDPs would need consideration in terms of nutrition. They also want resources to be set aside for them to mobilize the support of the grassroots.
The Executive Secretary of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said the platform will reduce duplication and wants everyone to note that Nigerians are impatient to see action in healthcare delivery. The Executive Secretary of NHIS aligned with the ES NPHCDA and emphasized a need for integration through the platform.
The DG Governors’ Forum pledged the commitment of the Governors to the success of the platform whilst the Chair of the Forum of Health Commissioners assured that all resources of the States will be mobilized in support but wants the FG not to leave any State behind.
WHO’s Walter K. Molombo also gave the endorsement of the World Health Body. UNFPA’s Dep. Rep. as well as the Dep. Rep. of UNICEF were all in attendance virtually and they all pledged their support to the new initiative.
The President of the Nigeria Medical Association, Prof. Innocent Ujah asked that all must work together to reduce duplication, increase coordination and entrench inclusivity and add research for Nigeria to get it right.
Olujimi Oyetomi, Director, Media & Public Relations.