By Dave Okpogadie, Asaba
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has lamented the high rate of maternal mortality in the country which he put at 40,000 deaths every year.
The minister made the disclosure at the opening of the 62nd National Council on Health (NCH) meeting in Asaba, Delta State.
He urged the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, to, as a matter of urgency commit to and implement national policies on maternal and newborn health and also dedicate a budget line with appropriate allocation released on time for reduction of maternal and Neonatal Mortality and nutrition intervention at all levels.
The minister, who noted that the choice of the theme for this year was informed by efforts to realize the goal of increasing access to improving health outcomes and achieving universal health coverage, added that no case of wild polio virus had been reported in Nigeria in the last three years, adding that the process to declare Nigeria polio free had commenced.
Dr Ehanire commended Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the people of Delta State for agreeing to host the national event. He said Governor Okowa was one of the exponents of the signing into law of the National Health Act in 2014 as chairman of the Senate Committee on Health.
He equally commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his strong political will in implementing the Basic Health Care Fund which was part of the National Health Act.
In his speech, Governor Okowa, who equally decried the high rate of maternal mortality in Nigeria, noted that Nigeria overtook India as the nation with the highest maternal and child mortality rate in the world, in 2015, “though our population is less than one-fifth that of India’’.
He, therefore, stated that a review of the Second National Strategic Development Plan was imperative to enhance practicality of its operationalization in view of the fiscal constraints the country was currently facing.
“Of utmost priority is the need to develop viable and sustainable frameworks that would address both maternal and child morbidity and mortality.These frameworks must include the private sector support as they serve as a strategic source of healthcare service delivery enhancement.
“This is necessary because it is important that interventions are focused on outcomes rather than inputs as these help to ensure that available resources are judiciously utilized,” the governor said.
He lauded the council for the theme of the conference, “Consolidating on the Journey Towards Achieving Universal Health Coverage”, describing it as apt and dear to him.
The National Council of Health is Nigeria’s highest policy-making organ on health matters, and platform for the members and stakeholders to consider and deliberate on health issues of national importance.
High point of the occasion was the formal launch of the Second National Health Plan.