Govt, WHO, UNFPA, Japan plan health agenda for N’ East
THE World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children Fund (UNFPA) and the Embassy of Japan in Nigeria yesterday made a case for better coordination of the humanitarian situation in the insurgency-ravaged North East.
The stakeholders are working on what they described as a ‘robust health agenda’ as part of the Presidential Comprehensive North East Response Plan.
At a meeting held in Abuja to review the health sector’s response to the humanitarian crisis in the North East, the stakeholders stressed the need for strong political will and commitment to win the war against Boko Haram and to rebuild the ravaged zone.
They particularly expressed concerned that efforts by government, partners and individuals have been largely uncoordinated, unsystematic and scattered. They are, therefore, seeking a more coordinated approach to mitigating the impact of the insurgency, conflicts and allied matters on the health sector response. The stakeholders are seeking to reposition and restructure the Federal Ministry of Health to effectively coordinate the health sector.
WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Rui Gama Vaz, said: “We have so many initiatives. We have many players, but we need to define how to strengthen our coordination on the ground. The second issue is in terms of accountability. We need to be sure of who does what, and who is going to be held responsible for work that is expected to be done. I believe that we need also to prioritise our interventions obviously. There are too many issues, but what are the key issues that require our intervention.
I can assure you that WHO will continue to be your main partner in terms of health, support, priorities, and the main vision that you have for the Ministry of Health. This meeting shows that Nigeria is prioritising its interventions. The North East situation is affecting not only the North East part of the country but the entire sub-region and the continent.”
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said the health agenda to be developed from the meeting would be sent to the Presidency as part of the Presidential Comprehensive North East Response Plan.
Things are no longer the same because the insurgency is affecting a lot more persons. But what we are saying is that we should face the challenge and prevent it from snowballing. We are currently having restrictions in terms of resources available to the country and this has serious implications. When you have reduced fund available and you now have to use part of it to fight insurgency, the implication is that money that should go for development is now actually used for things that are not development oriented.
That is why the earlier we moved to address it, the better for us. We need to appreciate Mr. President that things have to be checked by December. I pray we succeed, because the earlier we got over it, the better. But there would be after effect which would be felt long after the end of the insurgency.
We are talking about a huge humanitarian challenge, health, education needs, and even the effect after the insurgency.”
Representative of the UNFPA to Nigeria, Madam Ratidzai Ndhlovu, stressed the worsening state of humanitarian situation in the North East, calling for stakeholders to come together for better intervention.
She stressed: “The recent attacks of the insurgency and counter-insurgency operations by the Multinational Joint Task Force have worsened the humanitarian situation in the North East of Nigeria. Recent reports show that there are more than 2.2 million internationally displace persons in the country out of which over 1.9 million are found in the four North East states (Adamawa, Borno, Gombe and Yobe). Some estimates put that the number requiring humanitarian assistance in the North east is as high as 7 million, many of them in areas that are difficult to access.”
Head of Economic/Development Cooperation at the Embassy of Japan in Nigeria, Mr. Chikara Yoshimura, noted that his country funds the ‘Strengthening Sexual and Reproductive Health Service Provision in Conflict Affected Communities in North-East Nigeria Project’ to increase availability and utilization of life-saving reproductive health commodities and services among vulnerable groups.
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