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Toyin Saraki welcomes World Health Organization Director-General to Nigeria; Hails Progress as Adviser to WHO in Africa

Toyin Saraki, Special Adviser to the Independent Advisory Group to the WHO Regional Office for Africa, has welcomed World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus back to Nigeria.

Dr Tedros, who will address the (TEF) annual Entrepreneurship Forum in Abuja, visits Nigeria with the country on the verge of being declared free from the blight of polio. Toyin Saraki has long campaigned for the eradication of polio and urged for the issue to be understood within the context of health security in Nigeria.


In her welcome remarks to Dr Tedros, Mrs Saraki commented:

“I was encouraged by the progress we made together at the World Health Assembly in May, in particular our joint focus on water, sanitation and hygiene which led to ground-breaking resolutions and commitments. Our meetings and our discussion at the symposium ‘Why water, sanitation and hygiene must be a priority for quality healthcare’ organised by the Governments of Zambia, Tanzania, Sweden, Japan, Germany and Eswatini; the World Health Organization and WaterAid, gave me great confidence that the WHO is leading progress on WASH around the world, in particular with the strong regional leadership provide by Dr. Moeti, the WHO antibiotic resistance (AMR) team and the WHO Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health (PHE) department”.

“Your assertion that healthcare workers should not be regarded as a cost, but rather as “an investment that pays a triple return for health, gender equality and economic growth,” is one that Governments must understand and adopt if we are to successfully address  the shortfall of 18 million health workers needed to achieve and sustain universal health coverage by 2030.”

“At the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, of which I am the Founder-President, we have undertaken a ground-breaking partnership with Johnson & Johnson and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine across the whole of Kwara State. Our focus on Emergency Obstetrics and Newborn Care (EmONC) training in healthcare facilities to improve health outcomes for mothers and their newborns has resulted in a 15% reduction in the maternal case fatality rate and a 38% reduction in the still birth rate in health care facilities where the project is implemented. This programme, along with our Mamacare and Mamacare+N programme, in partnership with UNFPA, is part of our commitment to increasing the numbers of skilled healthcare workers in line with WHO recommendations”.

“As we discussed extensively during your previous visits to Nigeria, the landmark adoption by the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of the one percent Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) was a historic move towards achieving universal health coverage. However, we are still far from realising that goal, which will require significant political commitment. That commitment will only be successful with adequate investment in primary healthcare.”

“I warmly welcomed the adoption of Resolution EB144/CONF./2 Rev.1: Water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities at the 144th World Health Organization Board Meetings because it recognises that Primary Health Care is a cornerstone of a sustainable health system for effective universal health coverage, and justifies my Wellbeing Foundation Africa's efforts to improve hygiene in health facilities, reducing the incidence of maternal sepsis, the 2nd highest causative factor of morbidity nationally. As a strong Primary Health Care system is essential for safe WASH conditions in Nigeria, so too it must form the backbone of efforts to improve health outcomes for women, children and adolescents throughout the country – and provide the resilience across the raft of WHO normative functions.”

Toyin Saraki is also the Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, the Global Goodwill Ambassador to the International Confederation of Midwives, and a member of the Concordia Leadership Council.

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