For each day that we have been on this journey, to put health front and centre of the political agenda in Nigeria, we have done so with a great sense of responsibility to the people that we serve – the Nigerian people. It is a responsibility that we take extremely seriously and one to which we challenge you to hold us accountable.
In 2015, we were all witnesses to the first time that power is shifting via the ballot box from one party to another in our beloved country. We voted for a change in the status quo, which includes the health sector. However, circumstances in the North East of Nigeria, our electricity and road infrastructure, the state of our economy has meant that health has not been at the front burner of the national discourse.
But now that Ministers have been appointed, and the large holes in the financial flows are being plugged, we are confident that Mr. President will eventually turn his gaze to the health sector. He will not have to look too far to find the hard questions to ask. In the same country where the banking sector is unrecognisable from where it was 20 years ago, in the same country where almost every other citizen now owns a mobile phone, in the same country that recently celebrated being the largest economy on the continent, it is inevitable that Mr. President will ask some of the hard questions as to why large parts of our health sector have remained in the stone age.
However, it has not been all doom and gloom. We hold on to small victories; the interruption of polio transmission (although being the last country in Africa to do so cannot really be a source of pride), a fairly successful response to the introduction of Ebola in Nigeria, and the beginning of the implementation of a watered down National Health Act that took nine years in the making.
Now that Nigeria is polio-free | Daily Times Nigerian Newspaper https://t.co/buomqrLLx2
— Nigeria Health Watch (@nighealthwatch) October 28, 2015
The persistent strikes in the public sector have driven innovation in the private sector and signs of new models of providing and financing care are emerging. Out of necessity, these groups are thinking of how to be more effective and efficient in providing care and we look forward to reporting on more exciting success stories in 2016.
In 2015, we held our first “Future of Health” conference, bringing together the most important thinkers proposing a better future for our sector. We started a series of policy dialogue sessions, the first one highlighting the role Nigerians played in the response to Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria. We also host a Radio segment every month titled #OpenMoH with Inya Ode on NigeriaInfo 95.1FM Abuja, to discuss the important issues in the health sector over the last month. We will continue these physical policy discussions in addition to our well-established online platforms.
You have continued to show your support by subscribing to our listserve and following us on Twitter and Facebook. In 2016, we plan to increase our engagement with you, our community. Please send us your feedback, respond to our posts, and share your views on our health sector. Ask your friends and colleagues to subscribe and join the largest broad-based community advocating for health in Nigeria.
Thank you for standing by us, by sharing our posts in your communities. Thank you for criticising us, for demanding more, for asking more of us. Thank you for constantly reminding us on why the work that we do is important to you. Thank you for insisting that it cannot be business as usual.
It’s the beginning of a new year with new promises. Our health sector is in a bad place. It’s our problem. Together, we can fix it.
Let’s keep pushing,
Your Nigeria Health Watch Team
Join Ifeanyi Nsofor of Nigeria Health Watch and Inya Ode of NigeriaInfo on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, for our monthly #OpenMoH Radio segment. They will be reviewing key events in the health sector in 2015 and discussing the top five issues facing the Nigerian Health Sector as we enter the new year. Tune in to Nigeria Info Abuja (95.1 FM) at 11 a.m. to listen live and join the discussion!