The Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Her Excellency Mrs. Toyin Saraki delivered the Keynote Speech at the Stakeholder Dialogue on a National Health Worker Training Framework, on Monday 14 November in Abuja. The stakeholders’ dialogue brought together Nigeria's national and State-level primary healthcare development organizations with skilled, resourced, frontline health workers as well as diverse multi-sector stakeholders, to dialogue on health worker training approaches.
Mrs. Saraki started her keynote address by speaking on her desire to combat preventable deaths in mothers and children, which birthed the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, twelve years ago.
“In 2004, the first wall I encountered was high and hard to scale - the unavailability of reliable information. There was simply no detailed data on why women and children were dying, beyond the basic tallies of medical facilities births and deaths registers - which failed to document the reasons and circumstances, or even correlate to each other. Accountability was largely inaccessible or absent, and to an extent, remains so till today, yet, in a startling history, the world's very first patient-held health record had been developed in Nigeria, in the 1950's, and embraced around the world.
The dearth of accessible and workable integrated central health databases is what inspired the Wellbeing Foundation Africa’s very first initiative, the client-held Personal Health Record (PHR). This record circumvented the lack of comprehensive health databases by giving women, together with the newborns that they are primed to nurture, informed and educated autonomy over their own physical records, as a last mile device, a ‘community audit’ so to speak, ensuring that the right information is available at the right time, in the right place, to protect and save her life, and that of her newborn. This, however, revealed, in sharp relief, the quality gaps between, for instance, the informed woman accessing a continuum of care from skilled and qualified medical personnel in a well-equipped medical facility, from the huge mass of unmet need. Nowhere is this more evident than in the identification of who exactly, and how well, care is delivered, and accounted for; to put it more bluntly, the conditions, circumstances, skills and qualifications of the very health workers to not only deliver the care, but also to deliver the data - investing in digital technologies for bi-directional data and training will bridge the gaps of unmet need, qualitatively and efficiently”
Other participants at the dialogue discussed the video-based training of healthcare workers on Ondo State, southwest Nigeria. This was work led by Instrat Global Health Strategies, country implementers of the USAID supported mPowering Healthworkers Training Program, one of the hosts of the dialogue session. Also present were medical and ICT professionals, as well as staff of the Federal Ministry of Health, and other development professionals. The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, through its Midwifery Programmes Manager, Mrs Felicity Ukoko, and its Nigeria Country Director, Dr Luther-King Fasehun, respectively discussed the MamaCare Antenatal & Postnatal Educational Classes, as well as the Emergency Obstetrics and Newborn Care (EmONC) projects that the Foundation operates at 17 locations geographically, across Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Lagos and Kwara States.
Mrs Saraki, who is also the International Confederation of Midwives' Global Goodwill Ambassador concluded, saying: “The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are within reach, but they cannot be secured without investment in the frontline health workers who are best-placed to ameliorate risk, prevent morbidity and mortality, provide psychosocial counselling, and contribute necessary data for crucial systems-based improvement. It must start today, and it must start with midwives.”