It all began with a thought. How can we empower 100 million Nigerians to transform their families’ health?
The 2014 National Health Act held some clues. The Act, which had not fully been implemented, created the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund to provide a basic minimum standard of health through primary healthcare centers.
In June, we celebrated with our partners a momentous success in the #MakeNaijaStronger campaign. After two years of active campaigning, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the 2018 budget with N55.1 billion representing 1% of CRF for basic healthcare provision fund.
This is a big win and a credit to the thousands of Nigerians who raised their voices, the celebrities who created public awareness through their passionate followers and the lobbyists who worked with policy makers in the legislature and the executive.
Why all that work?
Nigeria has some of the worst health outcomes in the world. It is amongst the worst places in the world to be a child, infant or mother, especially when one in eight of all children who die in the world under the age five are Nigerian. Furthermore, the deaths of newborn babies in Nigeria represent a quarter of the total number of deaths of children under five.
We launched Make Naija Stronger to secure full funding of the National Health Act in order to deliver adequate, affordable health services for all Nigerians. This new funding can provide basic health services, expand and upgrade primary health facilities, develop health human capital (especially at the primary health care level), provide essential drugs and begin the process of providing universal coverage.
How we did it?
The most important part of this campaign has been the participation of regular citizens who recognized that policy change was needed to address the country’s health sector.
Over 220,000 people signed our online petition to President Buhari demanding action to revive the healthcare system. Hundreds of people attended street rallies, thousands watched and shared our video and documentary content and even marched to the gates of the National Assembly in February, 2018 to demand action from Nigeria’s leaders.
The voices of these passionate Nigerians were further amplified by the numerous celebrities who were central to the campaign’s success. Waje, Ali Nuhu, Desmond Elliot, Falz, Basketmouth, Toolz, Yemi Alade and Kate Henshaw all joined the campaign and contributed their clout to its success.
Watch this moving video of Waje visiting the Udebu family, who know first-hand how much Nigeria’s health services need to improve.
Our vibrant young ONE Champion activists, spread our campaign message to the nation’s grassroots, engaging citizens and lobbying state and local government officials.
ONE also worked with numerous civil society and NGO partners to lobby and pressure the Federal Government. In 2017, over 30 of these partners signed an open letter to President Buhari demanding a quantum leap in health funding. ONE also worked hand-in-hand with these partners on over 130 advocacy meetings and public events carried out between February, 2017 and May, 2018.
All these efforts have led us to the landmark 2018 budget, which funds the National Health Act for the first time since its passage in 2014. While we acknowledge the progress this represents and the opportunities for lasting change it creates, there remains plenty of work to do in order to turn these funds into healthy lives. We must apply the same vigilance, passion, inventiveness and doggedness that got Make Naija Stronger to this point to the important task of holding government accountable for the effective and transparent use of these funds and for the proper application of our national health policies. Only then can we expect to see lives positively transformed and saved.
Through this campaign we realized this fact: citizens have an effective, powerful voice. When they believe in an issue and pressure government to act, things happen. Every day we are confronted by less than ideal situations in Nigeria – failing healthcare, ineffective education systems, poor security – yet persistent citizen actions can change Nigeria.
With MakeNaijaStronger, Nigerians of different faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds united and worked tirelessly to change that system for the better. We need to celebrate it, we need to amplify it and we need to share it.
Let’s share this story on our social media pages and talk to our friends and families about this victory and the potential it could unlock. What we have collectively demonstrated has the potential to totally transform Nigeria and we’ll need as many voices as possible to realize that potential.