Africa: H.E Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki Leads Universal Health Coverage Advocacy at the World Economic Forum in Davos

Discussing universal health coverage at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week were, from right: Oly Ilunga Kalenga, minister of health of the Democratic Republic of Congo; Toyin Ojora Saraki, founder/president of Wellbeing Foundation Africa; Khawar Mann, partner, the Abraaj Group; Chris Elias, president, Global Development Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Mary-Ann Etiebet, Executive Director of MSD for Mothers.
press release

Davos — H.E Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki, wife of the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, acting in a personal capacity - as the Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) and as a recently named Global Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Champion - is undertaking high-level interventions this week at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Her Excellency is attending the 48th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, which this year has the theme “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”, from 24th-26th January.

On Wednesday 24th January H.E Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki was invited to make a high-level intervention during a panel discussion on women, children and adolescents' health led by the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Financing Facility and MSD for Mothers. Her Excellency asked the panel and the delegates at Davos to consider the critical components of achieving Universal Health Coverage and helping local organisations engage with GFF countries further along the process.

H.E Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki welcomed the fact that all of the World Economic Forum’s Co-Chairs this year are women, and commented that she was hearted by the passionate defence of gender and social equality made by the Prime Minister of Canada:

“Having experienced the warmth and dedication of Members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet at the 31st Triennial ICM Congress last year in Toronto, I am convinced that he will follow through with the vision he has highlighted this week in Davos. His promise that, given Canada has the presidency of the Group of Seven industrialised nations this year, his country will make gender equality a priority for everything the G7 does this year is immensely powerful.”

“I call on Prime Minister Trudeau to not only carry out his pledge to persuade girls to focus on STEM subjects but to also promote traditional vocations like midwifery, and upskilling the existing health workforce, which are both measures which would help make UHC a reality.”

Her Excellency went on to commend Dr Tedros, the first African Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO): “I have been inspired by the leadership of Dr Tedros, who has made it his core mission to advocate for Universal Health Coverage, as demonstrated by his comments at the meeting of the WHO Executive Board in Geneva this week: he declared that this is “an opportunity to reaffirm that people-centred primary care must be the foundation of our efforts to achieve universal health coverage.”

“At least half of the world’s population cannot obtain essential health services and each year large numbers of households are being pushed further into poverty because they must pay for health care out of their own pockets. There has been progress in Nigeria – last July the Senate President launched the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage; the Primary Health Care Revitalisation Support Group has been a driving force and the Senate has resolved to mandate its Committee on Appropriations to include the one percent Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), meaning that the Fund will be in the budget for the first time. My overriding goal at Davos this year, therefore, is to widen the knowledge about UHC and encourage the international community, national Governments and influential individuals to effectively and urgently support it.”

“This is however also an extremely sad time, as our prayers and sympathies are with the team at Save the Children, so ably led by my dear friend Helle Thorning-Schmidt, whose colleagues were attacked this week in Afghanistan. The work that they do is invaluable and they will remain in our thoughts.”

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