The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, has received the in-coming World Health Organization Country Representative (WR) to Nigeria, Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu, at a maiden meeting held in the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) in Abuja.
To formally welcome the WR, Professor Adewole said that the FMOH has maintained an open and cordial relationship with WHO since the period of the former WR.
“I am therefore very hopeful that same will continue during your tenure’. He underscored the high level of respect that the ministry and health partners accord to WHO’s advice, “I will therefore leave my door open for our continued partnership”, the minister said.
In the ensuing discussions, both Professor Adewole and Dr Alemu indicated common interest on matters relating to polio resurgence; humanitarian health response in the north-east; HIV, TB and malaria; and universal health coverage through primary health care (PHC) revitalization.
On the issue of polio, the minister said that the resurgence of polio in Borno is a setback, though not unexpected, considering challenges that still prevail against reaching all children with polio vaccine.
He however pledged government’s commitment to achieving the response required until the paralysing disease is eradicated in Nigeria within the shortest time possible.
With relation to HIV, TB and malaria, Professor Adewole disclosed that the three diseases remain central to his dedication on what the government should achieve during his tenure of office.
He disclosed that he has decided to dedicate 2017 as year of TB case-finding. Equally, he mentioned willingness to championing a campaign that will facilitate a significant increase in TB case finding towards set 2019 set targets.
The minister indicated his ongoing dialogue with partners for a more representative population-based national survey on HIV that will finally put to rest concerns that current estimates may not be accurate.
He also assured the WR that he will be engaging further with the Global Fund on how best to deal with recent implementation challenges as well as improving focus and national ownership.
Speaking on PHC revitalization, the minister explained that this policy direction stems from the present administration’s manifesto and is central to propelling the country towards universal health coverage. ‘With some states already moving speedily forward plus support of partners including EU, DFID and the World Bank; the target of revitalising up to 10,000 PHC facilities thereby decongesting secondary and tertiary facilities is well in sight’.
In his response, Dr Alemu, indicated WHO’s continued support in facilitating planned TB case finding campaign, HIV surveys and for effective Global Fund grant programming across the three diseases. He also indicated commitment towards assisting the ministry find appropriate models for PHC revitalization including documentation of lessons learned.
In conclusion, Dr Alemu thanked the minister for receiving and extending to him, established unreserved level of collaboration and continued friendship in order to facilitate a conducive environment for sustaining the cooperation between the FMOH and WHO.
The WR further expressed his gratitude for being in Nigeria and continuing from where his predecessors had left off from under the great leadership of the present administration, particularly with current Minister of Health at the helm of affairs.
Additionally, Dr Alemu appreciated Professor Adewole for his oversight role in guiding the ongoing response which facilitated full release of government’s counterpart funding for the year “I therefore look forward to being of great support to you in your important task of moving the country’s health agenda forward”, Dr Alemu stated.
The WR pledged WHO’s continued commitment towards improving Nigeria’s indicators by supporting operationalization of the humanitarian response in the north east, interrupting polio transmission and the guiding objective towards attainment of the highest levels of health by all Nigerians.