The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole  says the government’s ‘Save One Million Lives Program For Results’ (SOML-P for R)  is designed to restructure the nation’s health care delivery system and improve  maternal and child health through a result-based partnership with states’ ministries of health.

In an address at the  SOML-P for R operationalisation workshop for the South West Zone held in Lagos at the weekend, the minister said the programme which  is also designed to  change the way health business is done by focussing on results and governance, is being funded from a $500 million (N140 billion) credit negotiated by Federal government with World Bank  out of which $1.5million had been disbursed to states and FCT.

He disclosed that the project would focus on six important ‘pillars’ of maternal newborn and child health (MNCH) namely:-

  • Improving Maternal, newborn and child health
  • Improving routine immunisation coverage and achieving polio eradication
  • Elimination of mother to child transmission (EMTCT) of HIV
  • Scaling up access to essential medicines and commodities
  • Malaria control;
  • Improving child nutrition;

Prof. Adewole decried the nation’s maternal and child health status, which, according to him, necessitated the Federal Government’s current intervention.

“Our indicators look like what you find in war-torn countries. Child health indicators are poor; mother-to-child transmission of HIV… we are the largest contributor in the world. We contribute about 30%. Immunisation coverage, we have a serious dilemma. We are not delivering vaccines to those who require them, that’s why we still continue to have cholera, we still continue to have measles, meningitis and polio.

“Malnutrition is a bigger problem – worse in the North-West than in the South and worse in the North West than in the North East. And what insurgency has brought about is the introduction of acute malnutrition to the people. Almost 40% of children in the North are malnourished. So, we have a serious problem. We are not delivering contraception. For so many years, contraceptive use has remained about 10% for modern contraceptives.”

The Minister said the states are being expected to play a major role in bringing about a positive change in the lives of the people through result-oriented delivery of health services, especially in the six focus areas.

He told the states, represented by their respective Commissioners of Health –Lagos, Ekiti, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Kwara and Oyo States that the SOML-P for R fund is a loan only to the Federal Government but a grant to the states.

“What we have done is to give you an appetiser – $1.5million. We will come back to find out what you did with it. What result did you generate? We have indicators and we have independent verification agents. What we will do after one year, will be to come back, to ask what has happened to your maternal mortality, contraceptive prevalence, malnutrition and immunisation. If you have recorded improvement over the last on year, then we give you extra,” he said.

Adewole also warned that the SOML-P for R fund should not replace but augment the states’ health budget.

“it is not meant for you to use to  build a diagnostic centre. If you use it for a diagnostic centre, there will be nothing for you (again) after one year,” he said further, urging the commissioners to ensure that the fund is used to improve the six listed areas of maternal and child health care.

Goodwill messages were delivered by the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru  Obasa, represented by a member of the House, Mr. Wale Oshin, the World Bank, represented by Dr. Benjamin Loevinsohn, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA),  Nigerian Labour Congress  (NLC) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).