WHO applauds UK’s £2m grant to strengthen Nigeria’s health workforce


WHO says it appreciates a new funding commitment by United Kingdom’s Department of Health and Social Care to support Nigeria in strengthening her health workforce.

The grant amounting to £2 million (about N1,2 billion) will cover two years period to support Nigeria to optimise the performance, quality, and impact of the health workforce through evidence-informed policies and strategies.

Kenya and Ghana got similar grants from the UK to support their resilience against global health challenges.

The WHO stated on Tuesday that the grant to Nigeria would help the country in its determination to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

“Nigerian health system like many countries in the global south has been beset with challenges in having a resilient health system able to provide quality health services, promote health and prevent diseases.

“The challenges have been further exacerbated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic which directly impacts the availability of health workers to provide quality services across the country,” the WHO stated.

Reacting to the WHO announcement, Dr Richard Montgomery, British High Commissioner to Nigeria said a skilled, well-motivated and adequate health workforce was critical for Nigeria to end preventable deaths and build resilience against global health threats.

He noted that the UK International Development funding aligned with the Nigerian health workforce strategic plan and would help the country to up-skill its workers, and improve health outcomes in the long run.

He said that the two-year Human Resources for Health (HRH) project aimed to support governments at national and sub-national levels and to support regulatory bodies and other key stakeholders.

According to him, it will help governments to develop transformative strategies for scaling up the quantity and quality of health workers, including competency-based curricula development and reviews.

“It will also help to align investment in HRH with the current and future needs of the population and health systems.

“It will strengthen the capacity of institutions including regulatory bodies for effective public policy stewardship, leadership and governance.

“It will equally optimise health workers’ retention, equitable distribution, and performance and strengthen the management of health workforce data for monitoring and accountability,” Montgomery said.

He added that the project would draw on the technical capacity of the WHO to strengthen health systems including experience of implementing similar projects with appreciable results in the past.

Implementation at sub-national will focus on Cross River, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, and Lagos States to build on the presence and technical support being provided to State Governments through the 37 WHO sub-national offices in Nigeria.

WHO representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Mulombo said in the statement that the strength of every health system reflected the capacity and adequacy of its health workforce.

Mulombo said that for a resilient and effective health system, Nigeria must have adequate numbers of health workers fit for purpose and motivated to perform.

He stressed that health workers should be equitably distributed across the subnational levels to enhance equity in access to their services by the population in need.

Mulombo said also that with the UK Government’s grant, the WHO would deploy technical support in the development of evidence-based policies; strategies, capacity building and management for improved planning and management of Nigeria’s health workforce.