According to a recent announcement, Nigeria will implement its health system reforms by 2015. The plans aim to extend access to essential primary care services for women and children. Grandly named, “Saving One Million Lives”, the scheme is designed to work at a community level and provide everyone with coverage.
“Saving One Million Lives will be the new yardstick for measuring health sector performance in Nigeria,” promised Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
Described as “a bold step” by the World Health Organisation, the initiative is focused on proven, cost-effective strategies to improve health care across the country. The scheme is comprised of several components:
- Improving maternal, newborn and child health – including access to a skilled healthcare practitioner, and referrals through a network of primary care centres.
- Immunizations – improving coverage and eradicating polio.
- Mother-to-child HIV transmission – working to prevent this through increased access to HIV testing and counselling for mothers.
- Essential medicines – improving access
- Malaria control – increased use of antimalarial drugs and mosquito nets.
The initiative will also target improving child nutrition, and promote the use of technology in healthcare.
Nigeria’s Minister for Economic Coordination and Finance, Ms Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala explained the rationale for this initiative: “Nigeria needs to invest in human development or we will have to deal with an enormous bulge of jobless youth. ‘Saving One Million Lives’ will enhance Nigeria’s chances to grow and become part of the 20 biggest economies in the world.”