By Ado Hassan, Sokoto
The multi faced challenges of delivering effective services in the health sector remain a critical phenomenon that require responsive collaborative commitment and efforts of not only government but organised bodies and civil society groups to square up and tackle for sustainable solutions.
Accordingly, these challenges rest on the assumed insensitivity of government and relevant stakeholders to proper tracking of activities to ensure adequate budgetary allocation, analysis and management of resources as well as performance evaluation to further review outcomes.
These mechanisms are most importantly on maternal, newborn and child health which is the core subject that places the population strength and human survival margin on positive state of health.
Sequel to this and informed by the urgent need to rapidly respond to the call, the Sokoto Accountability Coalition on Maternal Health (SACoM) came up to strengthen avenues for facilitating the needful in order to create awareness and actively participate in drawing and developing health policies mechanisms as well in right tracking health related activities and government commitment to its basic responsibilities to the people in the area of providing and ensuring health delivery services especially to women and children.
The coalition is a platform of Civil Society Organizations, media professional bodies and government officials coming together in synergy to promote Maternal, Newborn and Child Health through innovative advocacy, accountability and transparency mechanism in Sokoto state.
The cardinal object and mission of the coalition is primarily to seek to increase political commitments that improve health budget allocation and influence positive health outcomes for women and children.
Its main thrust is to influence a quarterly interactive forum to be tagged (#OpenSMoH), that will bring together senior government officials, CSOs and Media for budget performance review and actions, in addition, the coalition will embark on strategic advocacy to political actors that influences adequate, transparent spending and timely release of finances in the health sector. Moreover, SACoM would support health sector budget analysis and development of scorecard to track budget performance, and as well enhance the capacity of media and Civil Society Organizations CSOs in the state.
Hitherto, SACoM is an established coalition structured under a Chair from Civil Society Organizations and a co-Chair from the Sokoto State Primary Health Care Development Agency (SSPHCDA) to coordinate relevant component activities with the strategic support of other executives through various sub-committees, which includes: Evidence sub-committees, Advocacy sub-committee and Communications & Knowledge Management sub-committee.
Meanwhile, in its drive to consolidate its commitment to supporting the health sector and sustaining a responsive health system tracking for accountability, transparency and effective budget performance, SACoM, initiated a formal visit to the Sokoto state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Balarabe Shehu Kakale who lauded the efforts of Community Health Research Initiative through their project; Strengthening Accountability for Maternal Health in Nigeria (SAMiN) for supporting the formation of the coalition in the state.
” I must commend your efforts at strengthening the active collaboration initiative to improve and support the activities of the health sector for positive performance”, Kakale stated.
Earlier in her brief remarks on behalf of SACoM team, the Co-chair of the coalition, represented by Hajia Ubaida Bello Muhammad thanked the Commissioner for acknowledging the coalition as a team player in the health sector, also stressed that, the coalition was formed in order to advocate for increases in yearly budgetary allocations and timely release of funds for maternal health related programs in the state.
Based on request, the coalition was given a membership in the Saving One Million Lives Steering Committee and Healthcare Financing Technical Working Group of the ministry to ensure the application of accountability mechanism in the activities and programs of the ministry.
In another development, the coalition was given membership in the State Routine Immunization Technical Working Group and Finance Working Group of SSPHCDA to monitor the implementation of quadripartite MoU on Routine Immunization between Sokoto State Government, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dangote Foundation and USAID.
Sequel to that, the Executive Secretary of SSPHCDA, Dr. Sani Labaran, appreciated members of the coalition and promised to give them a level playing ground to support the agency and state in improving accountability in the health sector.