According to data from World Bank in 2015, Nigeria accounts for 14% of all annual maternal deaths worldwide, second only to India at 17%. Similarly, Nigeria accounts for 13% of all global deaths of children under the age of five years, again second only to India at 21%.
To address the challenge of its 900,000 women and children who die every year in Nigeria from largely preventable causes, the Federal Ministry of Health in October 2012, launched the Saving One Million Lives (SOML) Initiative.
The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors approved in 2015, a US$500 million International Development Association (IDA) credit to significantly improve maternal, child, and nutrition health services for women and children by improving access to higher quality health services.
The objective of the Saving One Million Lives Initiative Program-for-Results (PforR) Project for Nigeria is to increase the utilization and quality of high impact reproductive, child health, and nutrition interventions. The first indicator will be tracked by income quintile to determine whether the poorest 40 percent of the population have experienced significant progress. The results to be achieved will be measured annually and targets will be based on the historical progress on the following indicators in Nigeria and globally:
I. Increase in the combined coverage of six key SOML services;
a. vaccination coverage among young children;
b. contraceptive prevalence rate (modern methods);
c. Vitamin A supplementation among children 6 months to 5 years of age;
d. skilled birth attendance;
e. HIV counselling and testing among women attending antenatal care; and
f. use of insecticide treated nets (ITNs) by children under five; and
II. Improved quality of care index at health center level.
Nigeria has made limited progress in the health sector over the last two decades which means that some 900,000 children and mothers are dying per year. The slow rate of progress has serious economic and development consequences. Simple solutions focused on improving inputs have not worked in the past but the availability of many of the needed inputs (such as health facilities and trained health workers) suggests that governance, broadly defined, is the binding constraint. This has been recognized by the Government which is why the SOML initiative provides an opportunity to change the game and boldly address governance and management issues.
This PforR operation supports SOML and ensures: (a) a greater focus on results; (b) increased accountability; (c) improved measurement; (d) strengthened management; and (e) encouragement of innovation
According to Benjamin Loevinsohn, a Lead Health Specialist and Task Team Leader for the new project, “Saving One Million Lives is a bold response from the Nigerian government to improve the health of the country’s mothers and children so they can survive illness and thrive. This, in turn, will also contribute to the social and economic development of Africa’s largest economy.”
Source: World Bank