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Toyin Saraki welcomes WHO Transformation Agenda for Africa's health progress and leads advocacy at World Health Assembly; Wellbeing Foundation campaigns praised by WHO Director-General

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has commended Toyin Saraki and the programmes run by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), of which Mrs Saraki is the Founder-President, during an audience granted to Mrs Saraki at the 71st World Health Assembly last week in Geneva.

Dr. Tedros, who is the first African to hold the highest office of the WHO, commended Mrs Saraki’s support and championship of the Midwifery profession globally, her advocacy work for Universal Health Coverage, the WBFA campaign for improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in healthcare facilities, schools and communities, and Mrs Saraki’s successful collaboration with the WHO Nigeria in the organization and hosting of the ‘Walk the Talk’ Challenge for Non-Communicable Diseases event in Abuja, which recorded the active participation of over 2000 stakeholders.

Mrs Saraki, who delivered the opening remarks to the WHO African Region "Delivering Results - Achieving Impact" Reception last Wednesday, in turn praised the leadership demonstrated by Dr. Tedros and the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti:

“The WHO Transformation Agenda in the African region has already delivered significant achievements and made an impact in key areas. As we mark the 70th anniversary of the WHO and the 40th anniversary of the Declaration of Alma Ata on Health for All, the WHO is demonstrably leading the way on the ‘three billion’ target - 1 billion more people with health coverage, 1 billion more people made safer, and 1 billion more people whose lives are improved.”

“I was delighted to meet again with Dr. Tedros – as WHO Special Advisor for the African Region, I am humbled and privileged to support his transformation agenda. His affirmation of WBFA campaigns on water, sanitation and hygiene; ensuring safe delivery and thriving infants; and universal health coverage, are most welcome.”

The WHO Director-General also welcomed the Nigeria National Assembly's recently announced confirmation of its 1% parliamentary budgetary appropriation of Consolidated Revenue Fund towards primary healthcare, commenting:

“I thank the Senate President and Chair of the National Assembly for this historic bold and landmark step, which will help Nigeria on the path towards achieving health for all citizens."

The audience with the WHO Director-General concluded a busy week of keynote addresses and meetings at the World Health Assembly for Mrs Saraki and the WBFA. Mrs Saraki, in her keynote address to the ‘Leading the Way for Midwives’ side-event organized by the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) headquartered at The Hague – of which she is the Global Goodwill Ambassador – praised midwives, commenting:

“WBFA midwives, like their colleagues all over the world, are motivated by a strong sense of duty and compassion. Their commitment to respectful maternity care, good humour and treasure trove of testimonial impact are the most persuasive qualities I know. So whilst it is my job to lead the way for midwives, it is midwives themselves who lead the way so brilliantly. Our role must be to give them the platforms and commensurate remuneration and global recognition to do so.”


Mrs Saraki also addressed the launch of the business case for WHO Immunization Activities in Africa, calling for the WHO, bilateral donors and development agencies to consider a special status for Nigeria:

“I thank the WHO for clarifying and strengthening its transformation strategy regarding vaccination, as Nigeria could be in danger of falling through the gap of the funding transition – it tells us that we must strengthen civil society and the private sector to mobilize domestic resources. I would like to add my voice to the request for Nigeria to be given a special category during this transition period, as a global health security issue in terms of vaccine preventable infectious diseases control, and further suggest that the WHO country offices consider assisting the capacity building of Nigeria's civil society and the private sector to bring themselves up to speed and thereby be able to step into the breach.”

Mrs Saraki whose Wellbeing Foundation Africa is in Special Consultative Status to the Economic and Social Council ECOSOC of the United Nations, attended the World Health Assembly and Committee Sessions at the United Nations Palais de la Paix Geneva headquarters following an invitation from the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO) in her appointed capacity as Special Advisor. Ministers of Health and other delegates from WHO’s 194 Member States, including the Nigerian delegation led by Honorable Minister of State for Health Professor Osagie Ehanire alongside parliamentarians Senator Lanre Tejuosho and Representative Chike Okafor, met to discuss pressing health issues and the 13th General Programme of Work, which is WHO’s 5-year strategic plan to help countries meet the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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