Thursday, 18 October 2012

Saving 1 million lives in Nigeria

On the 16th October 2012, most people involved in maternal and child health in Nigeria gathered at the Banquet Hall of the presidential villa in Abuja to participate in a new initiative from the Minister of State for Health; Dr Muhammad Ali Pate - Saving one Million Lives, by 2015. Close followers of this blog will recall the first time he stated his intentions in this regard in a webinar which we covered (No ordinary webinar with Dr Ali-Pate Minister of State for Health). Also on the programme, was the launch of the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children.  I am sure you are beginning to wonder - Oh not another lofty ambitious headline, with lots of talk and little substance. But something in the room felt different...

Firstly - this is the first time I can remember that a Minister for Health in Nigeria is providing Nigerians with a clear unambiguous objective, in health terms, to be delivered within a specific time frame. Dr Muhammad Ali Pate, by doing this has put his head above the parapet, and you bet Nigerians will be ready to assess progress by 2015. As eloquently pointed out by Moji Makanjuola who compered the day, within the time it took to say the Christian and Muslim prayers during the ceremony one woman and several children would have died in our country, so we really have to commit our words to action! No one put it better on the day than the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor who "confessed" to the international audience - saying "In Nigeria, we talk a lot and do very little".