The Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), has called for improved advocacy and accountability for women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health and well-being.
AHBN Engagement and Partnership Consultant, Oyeyemi Pitan, made the call on Thursday, September 8, 2023, at a meeting for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the Media to review commitments made by the government on Reproductive Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent, Elderly+Nutrition (RMNCAEH+N), held in Abuja
Pitan averred that, addressing the gaps in knowledge for advancing advocacy and accountability for women, children, and adolescent’s health and well-being was essential, adding that all hands must be on deck, and called CSOs, media, and young people to be part of the Collaborative Advocacy Action Plan to improve access to healthcare services for women, children, and adolescents, as well as strengthen health systems in the country.
She further said effort must be made by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media to step up their efforts in advocating for and monitoring progress towards achieving health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Meanwhile, the Program Manager of the Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON), Dr. Opeyemi Adeosun, stated that there was a need for a continuous scoping review of progress on existing commitments and priorities in RMNCAEH+N, adolescent well-being–youth-led and partner/actors-supported review.
Adeosun added that stakeholders should collectively advocate for new adolescent well-being commitments across all five domains agreed in the documents.
He said that relevant accountability mechanisms at the national level should be identified, strengthened, and agreed upon to track maternal, newborn, and child health, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), and adolescent well-being.
On her part, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mrs Chika Offor, Vaccine Network for Disease Control commended AHBN for the initiative and emphasised the need to include people with disabilities.
Offor said that the purpose of RMNCAEH+N was to ensure that Nigerians do not have to break the bank before accessing healthcare facilities.
According to her, since the government was the driving seat of the health sector, it must ensure that all Nigerians understood its policies for easy accessibility by media and CSOs.
“This should be in an audience-friendly manner such that everyone can read and understand.
“We need to hold the government accountable when its policies are not successful at every phase of its policies plan as itemised on a yearly basis,” she said.
Madam Lois Auta, Founder, Cedar Seed Foundation, an organization that promotes the participation of women with disabilities in human rights-based development in Nigeria, also called for the inclusion of people with disabilities.
She applauded the government for including the elderly in RMNCAEH+N but, there was a need for the government to also capture people with disabilities because of their special needs and because there are also Nigerians.
Earlier, health economist, monitoring and evaluation specialist of AHBN, Mrs Maimuma Abdullahi, said that the Federal Ministry of Health was working on developing a Nigeria RMNCAEH+N strategy.
Abdullahi in her presentation provided highlights of the draft RMNCAEH+N including key focus areas of the document and their objectives and targets.
“The overall goal of the Strategy is to reduce maternal, neonatal, child, adolescent, and elderly morbidity and mortality in Nigeria.
“Promote universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and adults throughout their life cycle and comprehensive nutritional services, especially for under five children,” she said.
She urged the CSOs and media to participate and support the Federal Ministry of Health to finalise, Publish, launch, and disseminate the RMNCAEH+N strategy for easy accessibility.
She also called for the promotion of accountability through the development of a scorecard to track the implementation progress of the RMNCAEH strategy once it was published and disseminated.
She said that AHBN, with support from The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), is coordinating the development of the Collaborative Advocacy Action Plan through the multi-stakeholder platform and RMNCAEHN CSOs in Nigeria.
“CSOs should always engage the government in all levels of their commitment policy plans in order to tack its level of achievement, accountability, and realistic measure as well.”