On World AIDS Day (WAD), the ONE team partnered with National Agency for the Council of AIDS, Connected Development, Ummah Support Initiatives, Wellbeing Foundation for Africa, Nigeria Medical Association, Network of People Living with AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), and other members of the Nigeria Health Sector Reform Coalition on a major milestone: the hand-in of our Make Naija Stronger petition and postcards signed by over 187,000 people to Nigeria’s Senate President, Bukola Saraki!
Since our Make Naija Stronger campaign began in April, I have been inspired by how our ONE members, ambassadors, and champions have campaigned tirelessly across the country to spread the word and educate the public on the importance of health – and their hard work has provided results. Throughout the campaign, I have ensured that I communicate their anguish and wishes every time I discuss the need to finance health care with the Minister of State for budget or the Health Minister himself.
The main highlight of the WAD town-hall event for me were when a number of people from all walks of life gave testimonies on the poor face of health in their communities and called on government to urgently provide funding for services that poor people need – including those needed to control HIV and AIDS. Top Nigerian celebrities like Waje, Ali Nuhu and Desmond Elliot even added their voices to the call!
There was no doubt that Senate President Bukola Saraki heard our voices loud and clear: health can not wait any longer! Upon receiving our petition, the Senate President committed to working towards achieving the National Health Care Act! He promised to lead the charge for the federal government to change the health sector – as he did when he was State Governor of Kwara state – by helping implement our historic commitments to the National Health Care Act and African Union Abuja Declaration. This is GREAT news! Our job next is to ensure he delivers on this promise.
To see some of the people and moments that graced this momentous event, check out our slide show!