Nigeria Must Adopt Concerted Approach To Achieve Goal 5 OF The MDGs By 2015

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??Dr. Precious Gbenol

In effort to fast-track progress against the MDGs in Nigeria the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Millennium Development Goals, MDGs last week held a technical workshop of the Millennium Development Goals Acceleration Framework (MAF).

Welcoming the participants in Dr. Precious Kalamba Gbeneol, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Millennium Development Goals said; ?This process has come about through partnership between Government, the United Nations Country System in Nigeria and the United Kingdom?s Department for International Development. MAF is a UN created tool designed to increase the efficiency of attainment through the identification of bottlenecks and barriers to progress, in the run up to the 2015 deadline. MAF has been successfully implemented in a number of countries across Africa: such a tool therefore needs to be moulded to the specific country.?

According to her,  she said that as such, this workshop is a crucial process in ensuring the effectiveness of this intervention, adding that; ?Following the directive by His Excellency, Mr. President, at the December Presidential Committee Meeting on the Monitoring and Assessment of the Millennium Development Goals, my Office deliberated on the progress Nigeria has achieved so far and the challenges it faces in attaining the MDGs. Based on that analysis, my Office prioritized MDG 5 as the first of the Goals to go through the acceleration process. Maternal mortality has been selected due to the large in-country variation in progress.?

?For example there is a significant urban rural divide in estimates, with rural areas doing considerably worse. Similarly there is also significant regional variation; maternal mortality estimates in the North East zone are very high, compared with very low estimates in the South West zone. In order for Nigeria to succeed in achieving Goal 5 by 2015 a concerted effort is required to mitigate this growing in-country divergence. By comparison to progress in other Goal areas (for instance Goal 4 where progress is around 13% reduction per year), progress in Goal 5 is only a 4% reduction per year,? Dr. Precious said.

Speaking further she said that maternal mortality is a travesty in today?s society, given the medical expertise available. However, a major part of the story remains the lack of even supply of expertise across the population; health care professionals are clustered in urban centres. Indeed, schemes such as the Midwife Services Scheme have had an effect in increasing the number of skilled health professionals present at births. In 2008, the figure was 38.9%. Since the introduction of the MSS, the figure had risen to 48.7%.

?In order for this tool to be successfully molded        to the Nigerian context, your input is required. You represent the different stakeholder groups who are crucial to decreasing the number of mothers dying in childbirth. Amongst you are representatives from all 36 States and the FCT. Your colleagues at this workshop are doctors, nurses, midwives, medical record officers, traditional birth attendants, health directors, representatives from NGOs, community health extension workers and village health workers, amongst many others. In this group we have the collective knowledge on the impediments to progress across the country. For this to be successful; we need you to speak to each other. Help each other understand the challenges facing you in your particular area, such that those challenges can be overcome.?

Meanwhile the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu  in his keynote address added that the Federal Government through the Ministry of health has given expression in the National Strategic Health Development Plan(NSHDP) to the belief and commitment that the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) are feasible and can be achieved by 2015;

The Minister also asserted that moving forward; ?we must continue to advocate for strong political will to be shown by the Legislature and government at all levels. Budgetary allocations for Maternal, Newborn, and child survival in Nigeria need to be increased to at least 10% of total health expenditures at each level of government.?

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