ABUJA – (Federal Ministry of Health Report) – Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo (Prof) has called on religious leaders to support the Federal Government in implementing health, economic policies and programmes in the country. He also said that religious leaders have specific roles to play in influencing their followers to understand the importance of Federal Government programmes which are meant to improve the health and economic status of the country.
Yemi Osinbajo made this known while speaking at the conference tagged: “Harnessing Demographic Dividends for Sustainable Development in Nigeria: The Role of Muslim Religious Leaders,” which held in Abuja on Thursday, 13th of September 2018. He inferred that demographics involve such economic growth that may result from changes to countries’ age structure. Adding, achieving demographic dividends requires sustainable multi-sector investments in health, education, young people, employment, women and girls, trade and industry, economic growth and governance by the government.
“To achieve demographic dividends, the Federal Government has since 2015 begun to bring out large numbers of people out of poverty. It is investing in critical human development issues, especially healthcare, education and employment. We have now employed directly under N-Power programme 500,000 graduates and we are giving micro – credits to over 2 million petty traders in every State of Nigeria. We are also targeting our cash transfer to over 400,000 of the poorest Nigerian farmers,” he noted.
In his remarks, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole (Prof) informed that available data indicates that working with religious leaders to improve maternal, new born and child health is an important cost – effective and sustainable strategy in disseminating Maternal Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH) information across a large population. He further observed as critical persuading communities to change established behaviour and attitudes, stressing that it has also led to improved perceptions on family planning and spousal communication.
“The Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with UNFPA and other numerous partners is calling on all religious leaders to help in making the change that would translate into positive contributions to Nigeria’s economic development through investment in youths and young people that will fast-track our harnessing of the demographic dividend,” the Minister continued.
Also speaking, the UNFPA Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Mabinggue Ngoma represented by the Acting Country Representative for UNFPA, Eugene Kongnyuy (Dr) described religious leaders as the most important personalities in the society as they provide information, counselling as well as guidance to groups and individuals. He further espoused that the information provided by religious leaders serve as the moral framework for the demand for social services such as healthcare and education, among others at both individual and family levels.