PRESS RELEASE - International Youth Day – Youth leaders call for investments in Health to achieve the SDGs
• Nigerian Government must keep its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals and address the health crises
• Everyday, 2000 Nigerian children and 158 women die because of poor access to basic healthcare
• National Health Act could save the lives of over 3 million mothers, newborns and children under-5 by 2022 if fully implemented
International Youth Day celebrations Abuja, Nigeria (12 August 2016) – Over 200 youth leaders converged at the Unity Fountain in Abuja for a health walk to celebrate the International Youth Day for 2016. August 12, 2016, has been declared the International Youth Day by the United Nations and the theme of the 2016 International Youth Day is “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production”. It focuses on the leading role of young people in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development. DEAN Initiative and ONE campaign converged citizens and youth leaders to narrow down to achieving SDG 3, that is, achieving good health and wellbeing.
The youth leaders convened an open air health rally to campaign for the achievement of the SDGs with a specific call for attention to the health sector and draw public support for the campaign to “Make Naija Stronger” which is a health campaign calling for more investments in the health sector to reduce all avoidable deaths in the country. The campaign aims to amplify Nigerian citizens’ demands that the government fulfill its promises and save the health system by funding the 2014 National Health Act and by allocating 15% of the national budget to health.
Anti-poverty organization, ONE and its partners are calling for improved access to lifesaving health services for all Nigerians.
15 years ago, all African governments made a commitment in Abuja to increase health spending to 15% of their national budget.
Successive governments have failed to deliver on the Abuja commitment and Nigerians – particularly women and children – continue to die from treatable and preventable diseases.
The historic Abuja declaration has never been met by Nigerian policy-makers - only 4.13% is allocated to health in the 2016 budget.
Citizens were also seen to be writing messages on post-cards that will be delivered to their individual representatives in the National Assembly.
“We cannot fall behind in achieving the SDGs in Nigeria and that is only possible when people are healthy,” says Semiye Michael of DEAN Initiative. “As youth leaders, we are calling the attention of the leaders to prioritize the health of its people, otherwise, no meaningful development can happen when people die of unnecessary causes.”
Dr. Francis Ohayindo of ONE campaign asked all Nigerians to join their voices in calling for the implementation of the National Health Act, which outlines how a functional health system should operate. He stated that “starting with the 2017 budget, provisions for the Basic health care Provision Fund should be clearly provided for to allow access to basic health care services for the millions who cannot afford it.” If fully implemented, the National Health Act could save the lives of over 3 million mothers, newborns and children under-5 by 2022.
Despite being Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria spends relatively little on the health of its citizens and is facing both a health and a nutrition crisis, as women and children continue to die from treatable and preventable diseases. Nigeria’s health expenditure puts it in the bottom third of the ranking of countries in sub- Saharan Africa. Out of 49 lower-middle income countries, only seven country governments spend less per capita than Nigeria does on health.
“We laud the Nigerian government plan to operationalize 10,000 PHCs across the country, but we are waiting to see action on this since it will give better access to health services for the very large population of rural dwellers in Nigeria, says Dozie Nwafor of the Young African Leader International, Abuja. He further emphasized that the development of a comprehensive community health insurance scheme will also go along way to help achieve Universal Health Coverage.”
President Buhari and the Minister of Health last year reaffirmed their commitment to prioritising healthcare by agreeing to pursue the new Sustainable Development Goals. These goals present an opportunity for government to translate their commitment into time- bound and measurable outcomes to dramatically cut avoidable deaths of mothers, children and the marginalised. Now is the time for increased implementation of these important commitments.
“We urge President Buhari to keep his promise to increase the quantity and quality of funding to implement the National Health Act, and ensure all Nigeria’s children not only survive, but thrive,” says Edwin Ikhuoria, Nigeria Country Representative of the ONE Campaign.