UK Commits £2m to Strengthen Nigeria’s Health Workforce for Universal Health Coverage

WHO welcomes the grant to optimize health workforce performance and impact

The Department of Health and Social Care of the United Kingdom has pledged £2 million to support the Nigerian government in enhancing its health workforce as part of its vision to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

UK Commits £2m to Strengthen Nigeria's Health Workforce for Universal Health Coverage

In a press statement, the World Health Organisation (WHO) applauded the funding commitment, stating that the grant will span two years and assist the Nigerian government in maximizing the performance, quality, and impact of its health workforce through evidence-informed policies and strategies.

This funding from the UK serves as a significant boost to healthcare staff recruitment and retention in three African countries: Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana, thereby strengthening resilience against global health challenges.

Nigeria, like many countries in the global South, faces numerous challenges in establishing a resilient health system capable of delivering quality healthcare services, promoting health, and preventing diseases. These challenges have been further exacerbated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which directly affects the availability of health workers to provide quality services throughout the country.

British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr. Richard Montgomery, commented on the development, stating, “A skilled, well-motivated, and sufficient health workforce is crucial for Nigeria to #EndPreventableDeaths and build resilience against global threats. This UK International Development funding aligns with the Nigerian health workforce strategic plan and will help the country upskill its workers and improve health outcomes in the long run.”

The two-year Human Resources for Health (HRH) project aims to support the Nigerian government at national and sub-national levels, as well as regulatory bodies, professional associations, and other key stakeholders, in developing transformative strategies to increase the quantity and quality of health workers. This includes the development and review of competency-based curricula. The project seeks to align investment in the health workforce with the present and future needs of the population and health systems. It will also strengthen the capacity of institutions, including regulatory bodies, for effective public policy stewardship, leadership, governance, retention, equitable distribution, performance, and the management of health workforce data for monitoring and accountability. The project will be implemented in Nigeria.

The project will leverage the technical expertise of the WHO, drawing on its experience in implementing similar projects with notable results in the past. Implementation at the sub-national level will focus on six states: Cross River, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, and Lagos. The initiative will build upon the presence and technical support provided by the WHO’s 37 sub-national offices in Nigeria, which are already assisting state governments.

Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the WHO Representative in Nigeria, emphasized the importance of a robust health workforce, stating,

“The strength of every health system reflects the capacity and adequacy of its health workforce, which are necessary to deliver quality services to address population health needs. For a resilient and effective health system, Nigeria must have an adequate number of health workers who are fit for purpose, motivated to perform, and equitably distributed across subnational levels to enhance equity in access to their services by the population in need. Through the generous support of the UK government, we will deploy technical support from the three levels of the organization to assist in the development of evidence-based policies and strategies, capacity building, and management for improved planning and management of Nigeria’s health workforce.”

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