Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole recent riot act state governments to show results for federal government’s disbursement of $1.5 million to each of them, including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, under the Saving One Million Lives Programme for Results, SOMLP4R, of the ministry is in order.
Ostensibly miffed by manifest nonchalance by the states, especially against the backdrop of repeated failure of most states of the federation to commit to the wellbeing of the people, the minister at a recent operationalisation meeting of the SOMLP4R organised by his ministry in partnership with some stakeholders, did not mince words in giving the states and FCT the marching order.
At that event which held in Kaduna, Prof. Adewole noted that the SOMLP4R had disbursed a performance-based grant of $1.5million each to the 36 states and the FCT in the health sector. He said the programme was motivated by the desire to pay for results rather than paying for processes and reimbursing activity.
From available information, the programme with six major pillars and two enablers has the potentials to change health outcomes in Nigeria in many positive ways; what with the pillars including Maternal New Born and Child Health, Childhood Essential Medicines and increasing treatment of childhood diseases, improving child nutrition, immunisation, malaria control and elimination of Mother to Child Transmission, eMTCT, of HIV. The enablers include promoting innovation and use of ICT, and improving supply and distribution chain.
Instructively, states received 82 percent of the said grant but are yet to show any result for the funding of the foregoing pillars.
No doubt, as it is in this clime, the states easily commit to such programmes which have federal funding attached. But in most cases, such commitments hardly manifest into reality in the lives of the people. Perhaps, like other federally funded initiatives, including the notorious bailout funds, monies paid to states in this regard have been misapplied.
Thus, it is not enough for state governors like the Kaduna chief executive, Nasir el-Rufai, to assure that their states were committed to the programme. Neither does his emphasis on efforts by his government to improve 255 PHCs and 23 comprehensive health centres in his state as well as other efforts related to indicators such as encouraging routine immunisation through meetings with local government chairmen and traditional rulers.
For a programme with the mandate to drastically reduce maternal deaths and improve survival rate, no effort by component states must be considered too much.
If as was revealed at the Kaduna event that Nigeria contributes more than 10 percent of the global burden with about 70 percent of the burden brought by the six states of the North-West go-political zone, an integrated approach to deliver services using Primary Health Centres, PHCs, as the platform should challenge state governments and the FCT Administration.
On the foregoing note, we call on state governments and the FCTA to demonstrably take up the challenge by the health minister, and if necessary, compete against themselves based on their own baseline for progress and improvement of the people’s lives. After all, they do not need to be further prompted that the health and wellbeing of the people are of the most importance to them.
One more note: must we remind state governors and their respective cabinet members that the political capital they always bank on to sway public opinion and curry votes at crucial polls is a factor of the health of the people? If that is the truth as it truly is, they have no option than to commit positively to the Saving One Million Lives Project.

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