Nigeria launches 'Saving One Million Lives' by 2015 initiative

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan launches “Saving One Million Lives” (by 2015) at a packed State House in Abuja.
© David Milestone, USAID
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan launches “Saving One Million Lives” (by 2015) at a packed State House in Abuja, 16 October 2012

Nigeria has taken the bold step of announcing an official commitment to lead the way and save one million lives by 2015. ‘Saving One Million Lives’, an elaborate scheme to expand access to essential primary health care services for women and children was launched by President Goodluck Jonathan, at a meeting of the UN Commission on Essential and Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children, in the nigerian capital, Abuja. “Saving One Million Lives will be the new yardstick for measuring health sector performance in Nigeria,” promised Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

Nigeria’s Minister for Economic Coordination and Finance, Ms Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala explained the rationale for this initiative: “Nigeria needs to invest in human development or we will have to deal with an enormous bulge of jobless youth. ‘Saving One Million Lives’ will enhance Nigeria’s chances to grow and become part of the 20 biggest economies in the world.”

The initiative is focused on evidence-based, cost effective interventions that are proven – and address the leading causes of morbidity and mortality. The Initiative comprises of several components, which will contribute to saving one million lives.

  • improving Maternal, Newborn and Child Health: through delivering an integrated package of interventions at thousands of primary health care clinics with referral links, including skilled access to a skilled healthcare provider.
  • improving routine immunization coverage and eradicating poliomyelitis.
  • prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV; through increased access to quality HIV testing and counseling to mothers; treatment of infected mothers; and exploring feasibility of universal access to HIV treatment to all those infected.
  • scaling up access to essential medicines
  • Malaria control; through an increase utilization of bed nets and effective antimalarial medicines;
  • improving child nutrition;
  • strengthening logistics and supply chain management and
  • promoting innovation and use of technology

The launch of ‘Saving One Million Lives’ was attended by government officials, traditional leaders, development partners, private sector representatives, members of civil society and Nigerian midwives, the unsung heroines of the health care system. Every day, Nigeria’s midwives make a vital (but often overlooked) contribution in the lives of mothers and their children.

There is growing international momentum towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals for child and maternal survival, as demonstrated, for instance, by the UN Secretary-General’s ‘Every Women, Every Child’ campaign; the ‘Child Survival Call to Action’ in Washington, DC; and, ‘Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed’.

The UN Commission on Life-saving Commodities for Women and Children suggests that with greater supply and demand, alongside the correct use of 13 specific commodities, more than six million lives of women and children across the world could be saved by 2015.