Minister calls for strengthened health systems to weather the storm of new and future pandemics

World Health Organization (WHO) - Nigeria

World Health Organization (WHO) - Nigeria

Nigeria’s   Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has urged delegates to the special National Council on Health (NCH) to embrace the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic for strengthening the health system.

Delivering the keynote address at the opening ceremony in Abuja on 02 December, 2021, the Minister said, “The theme for this special NCH; "the Journey towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Applying lessons from COVID-19 pandemic to build a resilient health system", reflects the reality of the times and emphasizes the need for a resilient health system, agile and flexible enough to withstand the shocks and challenges of emerging and remerging disease outbreaks threatening the world. 

Further in his speech, the Minister urged health sector managers to, “reflect critically on how to refocus, re-energize and re-programme the future of health, ensuring lessons learnt from the COVID 19 pandemic response are leveraged to develop statutes, strategies and frameworks that continuously deliver quality of health to our people while building back better. Above all, it ensures no one is left behind as we develop a resilient health system that ranks among the best.” 

He also decried that, “End term of the SDGs is just nine years away and targets of the health-related SGDs, in particular SDG 3 are still far off. The National Strategic Health Development Plan2 2018-2022, which outlines Medium-term health sector roadmap to attain the goals and objectives of the National policy and edge closer to the SDG targets is completing its life cycle. 

We need to take stock and ensure the succeeding plan addresses emerging needs in a post pandemic era”, Dr Enahire said.

The NCH represents the highest decision-making assembly of the health sector in the country. The Council meets annually to review the sector performance, identify challenges and proffer corrective actions.

Earlier in his goodwill message, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO Country Representative stated that the duty of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through building resilient health systems is a collective responsibility which requires incremental steps in the right direction and continuous improvement.  

“I am most optimistic that tracking implementation of the resolutions of this Council in line with Nigeria’s and global health agenda will strengthen this ongoing journey towards promoting health, keeping the world safe, and serving the vulnerable,” Mulombo said.

He left no one in doubt about WHO’s commitment in ensuring stronger health systems in Nigeria stressing that, “WHO will continue to lead and provide technical support to the country in the development and implementation of Nigeria’s home-grown policies and plans, in the context of the global health agenda as reflected in our Country Cooperation Strategy. This we have taken into consideration even as we currently review our operational plan and budget for the next two years.” 

In separate goodwill messages, speakers from the World Bank, USAID, UNICEF as well as traditional leaders urged the country to invest more in the health of Nigerians and intensify measures to monitor the implementation of the resolutions and policies of the special meeting of the NCH which was preceded by a 3-day technical sessions. 

Over 160 delegates, including 36 Commissioners for Health, representatives of donor agencies and members of the academia, are participating in the week-long event.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) - Nigeria.

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