Press Release; The Launch of Health Reporters – Nigeria’s 1st online Health Newspaper
Why we are intervening?
Abuja, Nigeria – October 17 2014. Today marks the launch of ‘Health Reporters (HR)’ the 1st online health newspaper in Nigeria which is being run as a not for profit initiative. It is aimed to raise visibility and places health agenda in the front burner and at the door step of policy makers, politicians, development partners and the society in general.
Health Reporters comes on board when Nigeria is in the election mood; by November 2014, political parties will hold party primary elections to choose their presidential and state gubernatorial candidates as well as members of the parliaments. And in February 2015 the general election will hold all over the country to choose our leaders that will lead us for the next 4 years. Health Reporters also comes on board when Nigeria is declared the largest economy in Africa.
These create both opportunities as well as challenges for the country as they haven’t yet translated in to cogent commitment and support to health sector. Currently, an insufficient amount of funds is allocated to health sector and even the meagre resources isn’t utilise efficiently. A sustained call in the media is desired for greater budget transparency. Media can better influence spending priorities and track whether the money is actually used for the purpose intended or not.
The health sector this year is at its lowest moment with the Federal Government of Nigeria sacking 16,000 resident doctors and suspending residency training not too long ago as well as the on-going fierce battle of supremacy among health workers unions for power and recognition leaving out the “patient” helpless and frustrated.
We are now less than 500 days for the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), serious calls and fast actions are required to address the shortfalls in investment in maternal, newborn and child health. It is still fresh in our mind that Nigerian Government specifically committed to;
- Reduce Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) from what it was previously to about 250/100,000 by September 2015.
- Commit to achieving the goal of a contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) of 36 % by 2018. Achieving this goal will mean averting at least 31,000 maternal deaths.
- Ensure the availability of Reproductive Health Commodities including lifesaving drugs for women and newborn in our secondary and primary health care facilities
- Passage into law the long awaited national health care bill which will boost financial commitment and allocation to primary health care and insurance scheme leading to improved universal coverage.
As Health Reporters comes on board, it is raising serious concerns that all the 4 commitments listed above none are achieved as of today.
The 2013 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) had scored Nigeria poorly in many health indicators. Our MMR is put at 576 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births which wasn’t significantly different from the ratio reported in the 2008 NDHS of 545/100,000. It has even gone up rather than gone down. W.H.O’s 2013 published maternal death estimates also corroborated the 2013 NDHS as it reported Nigeria’s MMR as 560/100,000. The antenatal coverage for at least one visit was put at 60.6% and for four or more visits was put at 51.5%. These Percentages signifies that almost half of the women population were disenfranchised and it raises the question of equity and coverage in health care. The % of births attended by skilled health personnel was put at 38.1%, it was very poor and a red card for Nigeria being the largest economy in Africa.
Health Reporters is committed to be reporting and raising critical questions to promote accountability in the health sector. We are calling our leaders to do more, because of the following reasons;
- Nigeria is one of the 10 worst places in which to be a mother, and has the second highest number of newborn deaths worldwide.
- One woman out of every 41 Nigerians faces a lifetime risk of death in childbirth. This is in contrast to Ethiopia, where one woman out of 67 faces such a risk.
- Currently, only 15% of Nigerians married or in-union aged 15-49 use any modern method of contraception. These numbers are shockingly low, and in stark contrast to Ethiopia where the rate is 27%. In Bangladesh 52% of women married or in-union aged 15-49 are using modern methods of contraception.
- The estimated number of maternal deaths for 2013 is 40,000.
Health Reporters is situated in Abuja, Nigeria to ensure strategic engagement and reporting of events as they happen, will be holding interviews across Nigeria asking the hard questions of what we are doing well and what we can improve on, creating opportunity for interested people to write opinions and share news and experience as well as enrich the public with both local, African and international happenings related to health.
Visit us at www.healthreporters.info
Follows us at https://www.facebook.com/HealthReporters and @HReporters