FG guarantees importance of social behavioural change in health

FG guarantees importance of social behavioural change in health

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The Federal Government has guaranteed the importance of social behavioural change in maintaining and achieving health outcomes in Nigeria.

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Muhammad Ali, who was represented by the Director of Family Health, Dr Binyerem Ukaire, reiterated this at the Nigeria Learning and Transition event, organised by Breakthrough Action Nigeria.

The Breakthrough Action’s Nigeria Learning and Transition event, themed: “Celebrating Successes, Consolidating Learning, and Transitioning for Sustainability,”  was USAID’s global flagship social and behavioural change project in the last seven years.

The project worked to improve the practice of priority health behaviours across multiple programme areas in Nigeria covering maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH), family planning (FP), nutrition, malaria, tuberculosis, COVID-19 and Priority Zoonotic Diseases (PZDs).

While speaking further, Pate highlighted Breakthrough Action’s efforts in reaching millions of Nigerians, fostering healthier practices, and empowering communities with vital health knowledge.

He added that social and behaviour change for the right healthy behaviour is critical to achieving our health goals and targets.

“This focus on behaviour change is particularly significant for the Federal Ministry of Health and the Department of Family Health,” he said.

The Minister appreciated the Breakthrough Action’s impact in areas such as disease prevention, reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health, and nutrition.

“By promoting healthier lifestyles, BA-N’s initiatives have made significant strides in improving health outcomes”

“The Ministry of Health remained committed to enhancing the health of every Nigerian, and the collaborative efforts with Breakthrough Action Nigeria demonstrated the power of synergy in achieving national health goals.”

He also acknowledged the importance of the event, not only as a celebration of successes but also, as a platform to reflect on future strategies.

“The insights and learnings shared will help shape more effective and sustainable health interventions moving forward,” he said.

Also, the USAID Deputy Director on Health Population and Nutrition, Rennie Suegatha, said, globally and in Nigeria, USAID is at the forefront of social and behavior change (or SBC) research and programming.

She added that USAID recognises that health outcomes are best improved when service provision interventions are complemented by those that increase the health-seeking behaviours of individuals and communities, and address the norms that underpin those behaviours.

“Whether to increase rates of immunisation, breastfeeding, or handwashing, seek care for fever or antenatal care services, encourage usage of insecticide-treated nets, or even encourage uptake of health insurance, social and behaviour change approaches are necessary to improve health outcomes across different populations.”

“Since 2017, the Nigeria mission has funded the Breakthrough Action project, USAIO’s global flagship for social behaviour change activities, to increase the practice of priority health behaviours to improve maternal, newborn, and child health, nutrition, reproductive health, malaria, and tuberculosis outcomes for Nigerians across twelve states and the FCT,” she added.

Meanwhile, the BA-N Project Director, Dr. Shittu Abdu Aguye, explained that in the last 7 years of Breakthrough Action Nigeria’s implementation, the landscape has been transformed for SBC programme implementation in twelve (12) intervention states.

He said: “Through our community, mass media, mobile/digital, provider behaviour, advocacy, and SBC capacity-building interventions, Breakthrough ACTION Nigeria has walked the talk as far as the implementation of SBC programmes in Nigeria goes. And we are very proud of the journey we have had.”

“Please note that even as we transition the project’s integrated SBC and malaria interventions, our TB and global health security interventions continue to be implemented till the end of FY24.”

“Over the next few hours, we intend to walk you through the Breakthrough Action Nigeria journey. We want this event to be a learning experience for the audience on social behaviour change.”

“We will share our strategies, our interventions, and our achievements. We will also explore the future of SBC within Nigeria’s Health Sector Renewal Strategy. We will also have some fun during the day’s events,” he said.

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