Nigeria Building Stronger Gender-Responsive Health System-Invests in Health Workforce Planners

Abuja — "I have always believed that gender equality would impact positively on the provision of high-quality health care in Bauchi state," says Amina Madi a Gender Desk officer, Human Resource for Health (HRH) unit in Bauchi State Ministry of Health (SMOH).

As a trained mid-wife previously responsible for delivering life-saving maternal and child health care services in her locality, Amina has always envisioned a health system where all health workers can achieve their highest potential through gender equality and nondiscrimination.

Her hopes attained fruition as she is one of the frontline health workers in Bauchi State who benefitted from capacity building activities facilitated by the Global Affairs Canada-funded Enhancing the Ability of Frontline Health Workers to Improve Health in Nigeria project.

The project, initiated in 2014 by the WHO, aimed to reduce deaths and improve the health of infants, children, women and men in Bauchi and Cross River States of Nigeria. It also aimed to increase the quantity and quality of frontline health care workers, such as midwives, nurses, and community health workers, to improve the delivery of maternal, newborn and child health care services in Nigeria.

Commending the project for its investments in health workforce planning, Amina says it has facilitated the creation of gender and human resources for health unit within Bauchi SMOH. She is now the State's focal point responsible for mainstreaming gender in all state policies and plans across all programme areas including HRH strengthening policies, strategies and plans. Her capacity to achieve these were built over the years through the project.

Meanwhile in Cross River, a health planner who also benefitted from the project, Mr Okina Nzie Mba, said it has been a game changer in the State's efforts to address the HRH shortages in delivering essential maternal, newborn and child services.

He is the current Coordinator of the Human Resources for Health Unit of the Department of Planning Research and Statistics (DPRS), Ministry of Health in Cross River state. In his capacity, Mr Okinna provides both technical and administrative support for the Enhancing the Ability of Frontline Health Workers project in the state.

He said the project has assisted Cross River state to train competent, highly skilled health workers who can manage and deliver essential maternal health care in areas of need.

"I have worked in different capacities within the Cross Rivers State Ministry of health after joining as a health information officer in 2008. When WHO began implementing the Enhancing Ability of Frontline Health Workers project, there was an urgent need to create a human resource for health unit within the DPRS to better address workforce crises in the state. Participating in this project is undoubtedly one of the best and most rewarding decisions I have made in my career".

"During the project, I participated in various capacity building events and training, and helped plan, conduct and evaluate interventions on human resource for health. A key achievement under my watch was to conduct the Workload Indicator Staffing Needs (WISN) Assessment. Through WISN, we were able to identify gaps in the inequitable distribution of human resources for primary healthcare in the state. It also availed the opportunity to redistribute health workforce across the primary health facilities," he added.

Buttressing the need for Nigeria to continually invest in the health workforce, WHO Nigeria Country Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo said the Enhancing the Ability of Frontline Health Workers to Improve Health in Nigeria project has empowered government and health training institutions to produce, distribute and manage health workforce based on evidence. According to him, this is pertinent as investment in health workforce is one of the best buys in health.

Technical Contacts:

Dr Faraj, Zoulikha, Email: farajz [at]; Tel: +234 803 9795 149

Dr Sunny Okoroafor; Email: okoroafors [at]; Tel: +234 803 747 6449

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