The United Kingdom (UK) has committed two million pounds to strengthen Nigeria’s health workforce towards achieving universal health coverage (UHC).
The money is part of funds approved by the UK to support health workforce in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.
It targets strengthening the countries’ health workforce’s capacity to achieve universal health coverage.
The grant will cover two years to support to the Nigerian government in optimising the health workforce’s performance, quality, and impact through evidence-informed policies and strategies.
Announcing the fund in a statement on Tuesday, June 6, through the World Health Organization, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Richard Montgomery, a doctor, said, “A skilled, well-motivated and adequate health workforce is critical for Nigeria to end preventable deaths and build resilience against global threats.
“This UK International Development funding aligns with the Nigerian health workforce strategic plan and will help the country upskill its workers, and improve health outcomes in the long run.”
Similarly, the WHO said it welcomed the fund, provided by the United Kingdom’s Department of Health and Social Care.
“The strength of every health system reflects the capacity and adequacy of its health workforce, which are necessary to deliver quality services to address population health needs,” said WHO Representative in Nigeria, Walter Kazadi Mulombo, a doctor.
Mulombo explained that for a resilient and effective health system, Nigeria must have adequate numbers of health workers who are fit for purpose, motivated to perform, and equitably distributed across the subnational levels to enhance equity in access to their services by the population in need.
“Through the UK government’s generous support through WHO, we will deploy the technical support from the three levels of the organisation to support the development of evidence-based policies and strategies, capacity building and management for improved planning and management of Nigeria’s health workforce,” Mulombo stressed.
The two-year human resource for health (HRH) project aims to support the government at national and sub-national levels and support regulatory bodies, professional associations, and other key stakeholders to develop transformative strategies for scaling up the quantity and quality of health workers, including competency-based curricula development and reviews.
It will help to align investment in HRH with the current and future needs of the population and health systems; strengthen the capacity of institutions, including regulatory bodies, for effective public policy stewardship, leadership and governance.
It will also optimise health workers’ retention, support equitable distribution and performance, and strengthen the management of health workforce data for monitoring and accountability.
“The project will draw on the technical capacity of WHO to strengthen health systems, including experience of implementing similar projects with appreciable results in the past. Implementation at sub-national levels with a focus on 6 states of Cross River, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, and Lagos, will build on the presence and technical support being provided to State governments through the 37 WHO sub-national offices in Nigeria.”
The statement noted that the Nigerian health system, like many countries in the global south, has faced challenges in having a resilient health system that could provide quality health services, promote health and prevent diseases.
It added that the challenges had been further exacerbated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which directly impacts the availability of health workers to provide quality services across the country.
The ICIR reported how many health workers leave Nigeria for other countries that offer better welfare packages and where health infrastructures are more available.
Before COVID-19, the newspaper reported how the UK employed at least 12 Nigerian doctors weekly.
Multiple reports by The ICIR, including those on the Federal Medical Centres, Jalingo, Makurdi, and the Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital, Yola, Adamawa State, revealed the rapidly depleting number of doctors and other health workers in Nigerian hospitals.
In 2021, this organisation reported how Nigeria lost nearly 9,000 doctors to the UK and other countries.
In a report in November 2022, The ICIR reported how citizens decried the country’s health workers shortage.
In 2022, The ICIR’s investigations in several primary health care centres (PHCs) in two states in the country revealed an acute shortage of health workers and the poor state of the PHCs.
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