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Toyin Saraki addresses World Health Assembly alongside WHO Director-General and First Lady of Turkey; Supports Call to Action on Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health and Well-being in Humanitarian and Fragile Settings

Toyin Saraki, Founder-President of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) and Special Adviser to the Independent Advisory Group of the WHO Regional Office for Africa, yesterday addressed a high-level meeting at the World Health Assembly on how to better align solutions to Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health and Well-being in Humanitarian and Fragile Settings.

The symposium and call to action organized by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) and the World Bank, was also addressed by Dr Tedros Adanhom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, Helga Fogstad, PMNCH Executive Director and Her Excellency Mrs Emine Erdogan, First Lady of The Republic of Turkey.

In her remarks, Mrs Saraki commented:

“Thank you to PMNCH for your timely and powerful call to action. As a Nigerian who has long worked with frontline healthcare workers to empower women, their infants and their communities to stay healthy, safe and to thrive, I know that if we are to achieve universal health coverage, and truly leave no-one behind, we must better align our investments and efforts taking a life-course approach to safeguard women, children and adolescents in humanitarian and fragile settings and uphold their human right to the highest attainable standard of health”.


“Given that more than two billion people live under the threat of conflict and emergencies of diverse and complex natures, and that 69 million people have been displaced by humanitarian crises, we need bold steps to enhance coordination and bring together synchronized knowledge, policies and actions for a whole-system approach to achieving health for all, especially in protracted emergencies and in the humanitarian-development nexus. That is why I so strongly support this initiative and call to action from PMNCH, which is best placed to bring us all together – from every sector, region, country and background – to remove the inefficiencies, identify and address gaps of capacity and delivery in every sense”.


“As the Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives I welcome the launch yesterday of the report ‘Strengthening quality midwifery education for Universal Health Coverage 2030: A transformative approach to improving quality of care.’  produced by ICM, alongside WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF. Women and newborns are the most vulnerable in humanitarian and fragile settings where quality midwifery education saves lives by preparing all midwives to prepare for and respond to emergency health situations”.


“It lends significant weight to PMNCH’s initiative, as we seek to provide comprehensive training and support necessary for midwives to provide the full scope of services in situations which are often dangerous and highly prone to change”.


“In a year when we have lost midwives, nurses and doctors on the frontline of healthcare, we all know how critical this initiative is.”


“PMNCH is best placed to mobilise partnerships of all kinds, and can act as the standard-bearer and interlocutor between the WHO, global institutions, CSOs, governments, the private sector and frontline healthcare workers. This support is invaluable to Governments and healthcare providers as the duty-bearers. At the Wellbeing Foundation Africa we have learned the value which emanates from engagement with PMNCH in Nigeria, as members who supported the ‘Saving One Million Lives’ campaign, the promotion of and ORS formula and zinc for management of diarrhoea, and the Midwives Service Scheme, a public sector collaborative initiative, designed to mobilize midwives, including newly qualified, unemployed and retired midwives, for deployment to selected primary health care facilities in rural communities."


“We know that the road to universal health coverage does not rest upon one single static action, but on the spectrum of interventions and initiatives; from water, sanitation and hygiene standards in healthcare facilities to breastfeeding education and training for healthcare workers. In a country as large as Nigeria, resilience throughout the whole nation’s system is necessary if we are going to be able to tackle critical health emergencies in fragile settings, for example in the north-east. That is why a strengthened primary health care system is imperative as the foundation and bedrock of achieving health for all and should be a focal point for investment.”


“I call on all partners and stakeholders to rally behind PMNCH, to support this initiative and most importantly commit to action which will make health for all a reality. Together we can make sure that no-one is left behind”.

The symposium was also addressed by Anshu Banerjee, Director, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, WHO, Manuel Carballo, Executive Director, International Centre for Migration, Health and Development, Rashid Khalikov, Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Partnership in Middle East and Asia, Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary, ALMA 2030; EWEC Independent Accountability Panel Co-Chair; and Member of the SUN Movement Lead Group, Tim Evans, Senior Director of Health, Nutrition and Population, The World Bank. 

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