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Nigeria among top contributors to global newborn deaths – Presidential aide

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Special Adviser to the President on Health, Dr Salma Ibrahim-Anas, has stated that Nigeria is among the 3% of the world’s population that contributes significantly to the burden of maternal and newborn deaths.

She attributed this to several factors, including poorly functioning primary health care systems, lack of available equipment, low healthcare coverage, and inadequate financing in the health sector.

Speaking at the 7th Annual Health Conference of the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists, Dr Ibrahim-Anas emphasized the crucial role of PHC in preventing maternal and child deaths.

She said that an effective PHC system is essential for building a healthier society and achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of universal health coverage by 2030.

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“The PHC is the fulcrum for a resilient health system and should be structured to be able to deliver services that will support the attainment of UHC and guarantee health security. The PHC is the entry point into the health care service delivery system where 80% of the health issues should be sorted out and essential with basic care needs provided.

“As a gateway to accessing health services, it should be designed to fit the purpose for proper functioning and operations to be prepared for the needs of the community where it is located. It should be a hub of positive interaction that gives hope and relieves anxieties and distress to whoever is there whether as a caregiver or client/patient.

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“It should be community-owned and led for optimal utilisation and sustainability of the PHC system along with the aspirations and potentials of the people and their developmental growth needs. The PHC should be linked to a secondary care facility for ease of referrals of cases requiring more expert attention,” she said.

Dr Ibrahim-Anas also acknowledged the challenges faced by PHC in Nigeria, including poor health-seeking behavior, long distances to health facilities, poverty, and lack of access to water, sanitation, and hygiene.

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She emphasized the need to address these issues to improve maternal and child health outcomes.

Earlier at the conference, Chika Offor, founder of the Vaccine Network for Disease Control, stressed the importance of vaccine advocacy by journalists.

She said that journalists play a vital role in public health education, countering vaccine hesitancy, holding authorities accountable, building trust, and fostering dialogue.

Offor announced a partnership between VNDC and ANHEJ to address key health challenges faced by children and women in Nigeria

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