"Women must take part in creating policies and legislation that reflect the society they want to live in"

Toyin Ojora Saraki

A brief introduction

Global advocate for women’s and children’s health and empowerment

 

As Founder-President of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki is a global advocate for women’s and children’s health and empowerment, with two decades of advocacy covering reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health; ending gender-based discrimination and violence; and improving education, socio-economic empowerment, and community livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mrs Saraki is the Emeritus Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM); special adviser to the Independent Advisory Group (IAG) of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Africa (AFRO), was named by Devex as UHC Global Champion, is the Save the Children Newborn Health Champion for Nigeria; and is a Global Champion for the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood

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Speeches Section

Global Speeches

SPEECH FROM September 24th, 2019

Good morning. I am delighted to extend a very warm welcome to all of you to this International Day of the Midwife event, hosted jointly by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa and ACT Foundation.

 

  • I pay tribute to our partners here today, all of whom are tremendous champions, advocates and representatives for midwives. The ACT Foundation of course, which supports our MamaCare programme in twenty healthcare facilities in Lagos. Thank you, as ever, to the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives; to the Ministry of Health, FHI360, and the Luth School of Midwifery. We are joined here today with a common vision and passion, and I am sincerely heartened by your presence and ongoing enterprise. 
  • I stand before you today as the Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives, commonly known as ‘ICM’, which represents 500,000 midwives, in 132 associations across 113 countries. Within that huge scope there are of course significant differences in the environments and conditions in which midwives operate. Wherever they work, however, midwives are the community leaders and interlocutors who are best placed to foster safe environments including, but also beyond, pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. 

 

  • As allies of midwives, it is incumbent upon us to advocate for the whole-system support to enable and elevate midwives as the key defenders of women’s rights – in Nigeria and around the world. Today I would like to alight on the critical elements of that whole-system support, with a particular focus on the role of women’s rights in light of the theme of this year’s International Day of the Midwife. I will also explain why I do not believe it is a coincidence that it is a day shared with ‘World Hand Hygiene Day,’ as water, sanitation and hygiene, or ‘WASH,’ is a critical factor in systemic progress for and with midwives. 

 

  • Midwives are champions of women’s rights; but can only be effective if their rights are also secure. This includes the right for every midwife—and all health workers—to decent work and a safe and dignified workplace. Saving lives does not mean a midwife should risk her own. Sadly, as we all know, in the past year we have lost selfless Nigerian midwives. Too often midwives also suffer ‘burnout’ – from long hours carrying out a complex role, combined with the lack of basic infrastructure or professional support to deliver high-quality care. Many rural midwives represent the sole point of access to health care in remote and under-served areas. It is our first duty to keep the care-givers safe.  

 

  • Whole-system support means providing midwives with the adequate tools, equipment, and medicine to provide the full scope of timely, high-quality care, and the capacity to carry out the WHO-recommended 8 antenatal visits. That can only be achieved through effective supply chain management and procurement, overcoming challenges related to drug selection, registration, quantification, procurement, storage and distribution, quality assurance, and information systems.  

 

  • If 13 essential reproductive and maternal health-related commodities were more widely available, it is estimated that the lives of over 6 million women and children could be saved. Those commodities are as follows:

 

  • Oxytocin – for post-partum haemorrhage (PPH) 
  • Misoprostol – also for postpartum haemorrhage 
  • Magnesium sulfate – for eclampsia and severe preeclampsia 
  • Injectable antibiotics – to combat newborn sepsis 
  • Antenatal corticosteroids (ANCs) – for preterm respiratory distress syndrome 
  • Chlorhexidine – for newborn cord care 
  • Resuscitation devices 
  • Amoxicillin – for 
  • Oral rehydration salts (ORS) – to treat diarrhoea 
  • Zinc – also for diarrhoea 
  • Female condoms 
  • Contraceptive implants 
  • Emergency contraception – family planning/ contraception 

 

  • Each of these commodities form part of the toolkit with which we need to equip midwives. But they also need to be equipped with a career trajectory and security to benefit them and the communities that they serve. Health system managers, supervisors and policymakers need to better support midwives throughout their careers: from planning, for example for a midwife’s recruitment and deployment to a post, to providing supportive supervision and clinical mentoring and amplifying midwives’ leadership roles.

 

  • Where midwives’ human resources metrics are not tracked, they cannot be managed. Thus, more data on midwives is needed: from midwifery schools on graduate profiles; from professional associations or councils on licensure, registration, and continuing professional development; and routine, robust, and up-to-date human resource information systems.  In addition, midwife-generated data streams can provide valuable feedback on how services are delivered and promote service improvements.  A comprehensive civil registration and vital statistics system must form the basis of health services and personnel decision making. That will, I have no doubt, provide the evidence needed to understand how midwives’ enhanced leadership roles can optimize health systems.

 

  • I recently chaired a technical working group at SwitchPoint Conference in North Carolina, organised by IntraHealth International. Our focus was on gender equality and the workforce. Despite my many years of working with frontline health workers, I was shocked by some of the accounts of gender violence. As an absolute essential element of a functioning, decent and dignified health system, a midwife’s workplace must be free from sexual harassment and gender discrimination. According to a global survey conducted by the International Confederation of Midwives and the WHO,  37% of midwives reported that they have experienced harassment at work, whether from colleagues or patients. Effective interprofessional collaboration is important to keeping midwives’ workplaces safe.

 

  • Safe workplaces also mean safe conditions of water, sanitation and hygiene: WASH. I am delighted that Dr Tedros, Director-General of the World Health Organization, has matched World Hand Hygiene Day with International Day of the Midwife. Midwives of course need clean water to facilitate a safe and healthy delivery and support families’ sanitation and hygiene needs across their lives. Everyone here today knows of healthcare facilities where midwives must pull buckets of water up from wells themselves; purchase their own examination gloves; chase livestock out of the health centre compound for lack of a proper fence; or dig makeshift pits to dispose of medical waste. 

 

  • At the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, we launched a water, sanitation and hygiene campaign in May 2018, at the World Health Organization offices, in Abuja. We did so precisely because of the overwhelming evidence coming back to us from our frontline healthcare programmes that we had to retrace our steps – that WASH indices in Nigeria were not only poor; but were worsening in many instances. Poor WASH conditions endanger Infection Prevention and Control systems and put health workers and service users at risk. The fact that outbreaks of diseases have been so severe in Nigeria recently – with the WHO commenting that the Lassa Fever outbreak last year was unprecedented – is no coincidence. 

 

  • Our MamaCare midwives began to advocate in healthcare facilities for better standards and taught proper handwashing techniques to staff. Their experiences informed our updated Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education programme which takes place in schools, teaching staff and students alike the importance of good WASH standards. We already had the framework in place – and the trust of communities – to adapt our programmes to address a significant health risk, thanks to midwives. 

 

  • But in a country of almost 200 million people we knew that we had to reach far beyond that. This is where the key relationship between frontline experience and the ability to improve capacity by achieving effective advocacy comes in. 

 

  • As we launched the campaign last May, we announced that the Foundation would work with partners including Global Water 2020, an initiative based in Washington D.C. which is designed to accelerate progress toward water access and security for all people in developing countries, with a particular focus on increasing the availability of WASH in healthcare facilities.  A key element of that partnership is advocacy for improved WASH standards, both in Nigeria and around the world. As Special Adviser to the WHO Africa Regional Office, I strongly advocate for the WHO Sepsis Resolution to be adopted and implemented by all governments. In October 2018 the WHO introduced new and pioneering guidelines for WASH in conjunction with neglected tropical diseases. 

 

  • In September 2018 the WBFA partnered with Unilever Lifebuoy Nigeria and Sightsavers to improve hygiene practices to impact more than 2 million children over the following 12 months. The partnership works on programmes which promote hygiene messages and prevent disease, advancing critical hygiene interventions such as handwashing with soap, addressing the issue of child illnesses and mortality due to preventable diseases.

 

  • In many West African countries, data provided by UNICEF indicates that between 15 to 20% of newborn deaths in their first month of life are due to sepsis. According to the World Health Organization, improved access to WASH and improved handwashing for all health workers could help prevent infections, and the risk of sepsis in health facilities. We know what works for WASH standards: we must provide those standards and training for midwives. 

 

  • As we are joined by our partners here today, I must also mention and commend them for our joint work on the Alive and Thrive programme.  I am delighted by the nucleus of critical host community support from the Lagos State Government and thank our Alive & Thrive programme partners, FHI360 for their technical support and oversight, the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa Team and all those involved in the organization of this conference. Thank you for your efforts as Nigeria unites to ‘Start Strong!’ for infant and child nutrition as part of a global movement.

 

  • Alive & Thrive is an initiative to save lives, prevent illness, and ensure healthy growth and development through the promotion and support of optimal maternal nutrition, breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices in rural and urban Lagos as well as Kaduna.  Good nutrition in the first 1,000 days from conception to two years of age is critical to enable all children to lead healthier and more productive lives. Alive & Thrive works through a four-pronged approach:  policy and advocacy; interpersonal communication and community mobilization; mass communication; and the strategic use of data. Our midwives are crucial to each part of that approach and I cannot conclude my remarks here today without paying tribute to them for their work on this programme. 

 

  • I must also pay a special tribute to our MamaCare midwives. They deliver classes in primary healthcare centres, hospitals, and at IDP camps, which are a frontline for women and their infants. Despite dire mortality rates in Nigeria – where women face around a one in thirteen risk of maternal mortality in their lifetime – we have not lost even one of our over 250,000 MamaCare mothers during childbirth. 

 

  • Our MamaCare midwives have achieved this not only by providing classes to a global standard – and achieving the WHO benchmark recommendation of at least 8 antenatal visits – but also because they act as even more than lifesavers. They provide safe spaces and safe conversations: no subject is taboo or off-limits. They can only do this because they are part of the community that they serve. Too often, global institutions have faced push-back when trying to deliver services – examples that stand out to me include vaccinations and family planning provisions – because they attempt to do so as outsiders, without the trust of a community. 

 

 

  • Placing midwives at the centre of our work gave us an army of community counsellors which has helped to drive the behavioural change to make women an empowered and informed partner. Midwives are the interlocutors between our Foundation, its aims, and women. 

 

  • They should however become the interlocutors between every government and global institution and the communities that they serve.
    To achieve this, we must enabling and elevate midwives with whole-system support – as ‘Defenders of Women’s Rights.’ Thank you. 

 

 

SPEECH FROM July 11th, 2019

Thank you to the Dutch Government, Bernard van Leer Foundation, the International Confederation of Midwives, and the Dutch Taskforce for Healthcare for hosting us and facilitating this 23rd Board Meeting.

I know that as we sit here in the Hague, all of our discussions are focused upon our shared value and commitment to ensuring that women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health (WCAH) is at the top of national, regional and global agendas. I think it is right, therefore, that the Board Meeting seeks to evaluate and enhance its political engagement at all levels.

At the World Health Assembly this year, alongside Helga Fogstad, PMNCH Executive Director, Dr Tedros Adanhom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, and Her Excellency Mrs Emine Erdogan, First Lady of The Republic of Turkey. I commended PMNCH’s Call to Action on Aligning Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health and Wellbeing in Humanitarian and Fragile Settings.

Given that more than two billion people live under the threat of conflict and emergencies of diverse and complex natures, and that 69 million people have been displaced by humanitarian crises, we need bold steps to enhance coordination and bring together synchronized knowledge, policies and actions for a whole-system approach to achieving health for all, routinely across nations, in order to build the resilience for effective responses in protracted emergencies and in the humanitarian-development nexus. That is why I so strongly support PMNCH’s initiative and call to action, which is best placed to bring us all together – from every sector, region, country and background – to remove the inefficiencies, identify and address gaps of capacity and delivery in every sense.

PMNCH is uniquely positioned to mobilise broader political strategies, and partnerships of all kinds, as it can act as the standard-bearer and interlocutor between the WHO, global institutions, CSOs, governments, the private sector and frontline healthcare workers. This support is invaluable to Governments and healthcare providers, who we can consider to be the duty-bearers. 

At the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, of which I am the Founder-President, we have learned the value which emanates from engagement with PMNCH in Nigeria, as members who supported the ‘Saving One Million Lives’ campaign, the promotion of routine administration of the reinforced ORS-Zinc formula for management of diarrhoea, and the Midwives Service Scheme, a public sector collaborative initiative, designed to mobilize midwives, including newly qualified, unemployed and retired midwives, for deployment to selected primary health care facilities in rural communities.

I must report from Nigeria that whilst there has been an improved focus on surveillance – and a growing acceptance of the fact that suitable civil registration and vital statistics systems will be essential if we are to achieve universal health coverage – I hope that these milestones in accountability also able to catalyse improved services at the frontline. That can only be achieved with expanded investment in primary health.

I strongly support the PMNCH position that we must put women, children and adolescents at the heart of universal health coverage. The relationship between achieving health for all and WCAH must be at the core of our advocacy as the former is simply unachievable without significant improvements to the latter. 

It is of course no coincidence that women, children and adolescents – despite accounting for 60% of the global population – tend to constitute the groups with the least political influence and power, which is why United Nations, WHO and national policies must explicitly highlight and focus on WCAH as part of their UHC strategies. 

Only then can we claim to be truly working towards the principle of “leaving no one behind,” which is central to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016–2030).

On a final note, as the Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives, one of our co-hosts this week, I must highlight the launch at the World Health Assembly this year, of the report ‘Strengthening quality midwifery education for Universal Health Coverage 2030: A transformative approach to improving quality of care’ produced by ICM, alongside WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF. Women and newborns are the most vulnerable in humanitarian and fragile settings where quality midwifery education saves lives by preparing all midwives to legislate for and respond to emergency health situations. As a critical element in achieving UHC and WCAH, I am sure that we all know that midwives can and do lead the way.

 

As Nigeria’s first and oldest country member of this esteemed and dedicated alliance, I am honoured by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa’s PMNCH Board Observer Privileges, and delighted to extend a warm welcome to Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, as Chair of PMNCH – who I know will ensure that women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and wellbeing are reinforced as a global priority. Thank you.

 

SPEECH FROM June 23rd, 2019

Good morning. It is a pleasure to join you to present the Goodwill Message of Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki, Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and Special Adviser to the Independent Advisory Group to the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa.

Thank you to Dr Tunde Segun, Country Director for MamaYe! Evidence for Action, for the kind invitation to join you today on this 7th MamaYe Day, to discuss such an elemental and yet crucial aspect of health care service deliver: accountability. 

According to the Global Strategy For Women and Children’s Health, the tracked indicators in Nigeria are some of the worst in Africa, with one of the fastest growing populations globally: our population is likely to reach 440 million people by 2050. We know the key issues Nigeria faces: from having the second largest number of people living with HIV, the highest burden of malaria globally – which remains the top cause of child illness and death – to having the second highest burden of stunted and malnourished children in the world. 

To achieve accountability in health service delivery, we must be able to accurately assess the demographic need for health: which necessitates a well-designed civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) system. Only with the collection and dissemination of accurate data can we hope to ensure effective delivery, evaluation and monitoring of sustainable, effective public health strategies. 

In the late 1950s, Professor David Morley developed the ‘Road to Health’ chart in Nigeria for monitoring the growth of infants and young children. This home-based chart was originally designed to monitor growth in resource-poor countries, but developed into a record of a child’s growth and development, kept by parents – it was revolutionary in its time. At the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, we took that concept and designed the Personal Health Record (PHR), a book in which the medical records of each mother and child are recorded and stored for future reference and analysis. The PHR evolved from a child immunisation and growth record to a comprehensive CRVS tool. 

This forms part of what I call the value of a statistical life. Without a centralised health database for many families to rely upon and keep them informed of the necessary health processes in a child’s first thousand days of life, the PHR came as an innovation that placed this knowledge directly into the mothers’ hands, and empowered her to provide, analyse and follow-up on her own data – to be in control of her own situational analysis. Home-based records have since been successfully deployed in countries like the UK and Japan.

 

Registering births and linking birth registration to vaccinations is an important part of CRVS and social accountability. Nigeria is currently battling with a situation where only 1 in 4 children, of our population of 198 million citizens, is immunised against preventable diseases. The Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation 
(GAVI) has revealed that despite considerable investment – of about $700 million – we only have total immunization coverage of around 30%. CRVS would allow us to hold Governments accountable for their policy, spending and distribution decisions – including in cases such as this. 

At the United Nations General Assembly in New York last September I attended the launch of the IAP report ‘Private Sector: Who is Accountable.’ That report rightly called on governments, parliaments, private sector partners and multilateral agencies to establish effective accountability systems. As I noted at the time, only two countries in Africa have met the Abuja declaration to pledge 15% of their government budgets to health. Meanwhile, tuberculosis kills more than 4,000 people every single day. This can be avoided – and there are five key interventions which would take us far closer to delivering the 2030 Agenda and achieving universal health coverage:

  1. Civil registration and vital statistics systems must be implemented and strengthened to allow Governments to prepare for epidemics and allocate investment where it is needed the most. CRVS is the only way to ensure that we leave no-one behind. 

 

  1. Investment in family, community and primary healthcare – along with hospitals where needed – to bolster healthcare wherever people need it; in rural areas and urban, cities and villages.
  2. Government investment in strengthening health insurance systems is also paramount to achieving Universal Health Coverage – in Nigeria and around the world, too many people are plunged into poverty by health emergencies that they or their families experience.

 

  1. Non-communicable diseases kill over 41 million people every year. The Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros, has rightly highlighted the NCD crisis and it must be a core focus of all Government programmes. Strengthening the primary health tier is key to prevention, detection and treatment of NCDs.

 

  1. Finally, and most importantly, the murder of young midwife and mother Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa in Nigeria last year must spur Governments and global institutions on to strengthen security provisions for frontline health workers, in particular those who work in fragile humanitarian settings. Women and newborns are the most vulnerable in humanitarian and fragile settings where quality midwifery education saves lives by preparing all midwives to prepare for and respond to emergency health situations. 

We know that the road to universal health coverage does not rest upon singular interventions, but rather on a plethora of interconnected  interventions and initiatives; from water, sanitation and hygiene standards in healthcare facilities to breastfeeding education and training for healthcare workers. In a country as large as Nigeria, resilience throughout the whole nation’s system is necessary if we are going to be able to tackle critical health emergencies in fragile settings, for example in the north-east. That is why a strengthened primary health care system is imperative as the foundation and bedrock of achieving health for all and should be a focal point for investment. 

Thank you once again for the kind invitation to join you today, and I look forward to working with all of you for stronger, more accountable, and safer health systems. 

 

This week on Tuesday, I had the pleasure of wishing a dear friend and extraordinary woman, Dr Modupe Elebute-Odunsi, Founder and CEO of @MarcelleRuthCancerCentre and Founder of @WomeninHealthcareNetwork, a very happy 60th birthday.

Dupe’s journey from qualifying in medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos and University of London, to specialising as a haematologist in the UK, to the establishment of a world-class cancer treatment facility and specialist hospital, is an inspiring reminder of what can be achieved when we are guided by endeavours of purpose and grace.

As we celebrated dear Dupe, we thanked God for her life, her achievements, and the positive impact she continues to make in the field of oncology, health and sustainable development.

#GratefulForHisGrace
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I am privileged to congratulate His Royal Majesty, Kabiyesi, Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal, Abisogun II, The Oniru of Iru Land, @HRMOniru and his amiable Queen @OloriMariamLawal, on his 4th Year Coronation Anniversary, Commemorative Prayers, and the Inauguration of the Iyaoba Muinat Abeni House edifice, within the environs of Iru Palace, which took place on 7th June, 2024.

In traditional recognition of my duties as Princess Royal of Ojora Kingdom and Iganmu Lands, and as the Erelu Bobajiro of Iru Land Royal Cabinet, it is an enduring honour to join Royal Fathers, Kings, Princesses and Princes, titled Chiefs and Chieftesses, and the good people of Iru Kingdom in celebrating a remarkable leader whose reign has been marked by grace, wisdom, and a steadfast commitment to the progress of our people, as His Royal Majesty’s visionary leadership ushers in prosperity and development for Iru Land, reflecting his dedication to the wellbeing of our community.

Kabiyesi, Oye A Mori, may your reign continue to be blessed with peace, and your legacy shine brightly for generations to come!

#Alaafia
#CultureisContinuous
#WellbeingforAll
#GratefulForHisGrace
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I am deeply honoured to be awarded the King’s College London Changemaker Award as part of the 2024 King’s Distinguished Alumni Awards. This recognition highlights the power of using knowledge with purpose and celebrates my efforts in global development, particularly in maternal, newborn, and child health through the @WellbeingAfrica Foundation, while also acknowledging my work in advancing the @UnitedNations Sustainable Development Goals and championing health equity through active #glocal policy and advocacy.

My time at King’s College London, where I studied an LLM in International Economic Law, instilled in me a profound sense of responsibility to use my education to make a meaningful impact on society with an international perspective. King’s mission to drive positive and sustainable change in society to make the world a better place, through its commitment to empowering interdisciplinary thinking has been a guiding force. 

Thank you, King’s College London @LifeatKings, @KCLAlumni, and @KCL_Law, for this incredible distinction. Let us continue to harness the power of education and use our wisdom for the greater good!

#Changemaker #SDGs 
#KCLAlumni  #WellbeingForAll
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I was truly grateful and happy to be able to arrive in Lagos in just enough time to wish my friend Dr Timi Austen Peters a very happy 60th birthday as I joined his lovely wife Bolanle, their children and friends, in celebrating him this week!

Ancient philosophy holds that “the person who remains unaffected by immense wealth, devoid of excessive joy, and maintains composure amidst adversity without succumbing to sorrow is often revered as an individual with steadfast intellect and unwavering spirit” - and this has always been true of dear Timi!

I also sent my good wishes to my dear friend Subu Giwa-Amu for her 60th birthday, to my darling Olori Mariam Lawal of Iru Land & Kingdom for her 49th birthday, and to #WBFA’s super committed Frontline Program Lead, Kenny, on his 40th birthday.

Happy Sunday and Happy #NewMonth Everyone!

#GratefulForHisGrace
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On Wednesday evening, I was pleased to join the @WellbeingAfrica Foundation Team in honouring our social impact partners @ThisisReckitt at their Stakeholders Dinner in Lagos. The event commemorated the visit of the Reckitt Global Leadership Team and Delegation, led by Global CEO Kris Licht, to Nigeria and highlighted the organisation’s longstanding and exceptional impact in our country.

Highlighting the role #WBFA @DettolNigeria Hygiene Quest Curricula and Programming continues to play in Reckitt’s role to drive access to health and hygiene knowledge and solutions, and the socio-economic benefits, it was wonderful to have the Governor of Lagos State, H.E. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu jidesanwoolu presence at the dinner, solidifying Lagos States commitment to #WASH and health equity.  

I was also pleased to take part in presenting the Access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Accelerator Seed Funding, a partnership between Reckitt and @YunusSocialBusiness, to support and scale early-stage social enterprises in Nigeria which are championing positive health outcomes, bringing people together and changing behaviours, to build long-term sustainable change towards a cleaner and healthier world. 

With 90% of our national population lacking the full range of access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene in Nigeria, only 8% of Nigerians practising proper handwashing, and over 23% still practising open defecation, our frontline impact and on-the ground efforts continue, expanding reach and solutions, by harnessing the power of public-private partnerships to change the world for the better, and catalyse innovation to achieve the @UnitedNations Sustainable Development Goals. 

#WellbeingEconomy 
#WBFADHQ 
#PartnershipsForChange 
#WASHforWellbeing 💦
#FrontlineFriday
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On Tuesday in Abuja, I was privileged, in my capacity as Founder of the @WellbeingAfrica Foundation and @ThisIsReckitt Social Impact Partner, to pay a formal courtesy call upon His Excellency The President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR @OfficialAsiwajubat at The Aso Rock Presidential Villa @TheAsoVilla.

Reckitt Benckiser, #WBFA’s longstanding private sector partner and the global leader in trusted hygiene products has proudly invested in Nigeria for over 60 years, contributing significantly to the country’s development. The Reckitt Global Delegation, led by Chief Executive Officer, Mr Kris Licht, and the distinguished Chairman of Reckitt Benckiser Nigeria Limited, Chief Olu Falomo, was honoured with a warm welcome, recognition and insightful discussions with His Excellency Mr President, renewing our mutual long-term commitment to our vibrant nation, an important business destination for today and the future, as President Tinubu’s Administration emphasised their unwavering commitment to fostering a conducive environment for private sector investments based in sustainable economic growth.

At the meeting, which had in attendance, Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite, Chief of Staff to the President of Nigeria, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, and Principal Secretary to the President of Nigeria, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, we also extended our congratulations to H.E. President Tinubu on the anniversary of his first year in office, sharing the vision of the Renewed Hope Agenda, which hinges on the core pillars of democracy, development, demographics, and diaspora engagement. The visit was an opportune moment to remind us that Nigeria stands ready to embrace the future, and position itself as a prime global investment destination.

#CleanNaija
#WASHForWellbeing💦
#SustainableDevelopment
#PublicPrivatePartnership
#RenewedHopeAgenda
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On World No Tobacco Day, I come together with the @WHO and public health champions across the globe to raise awareness about the harmful influences of the tobacco industry, especially on our youth as the @WellbeingAfrica Foundation continues to advocate for the full implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and provides a frontline platform for young people, policy-makers and tobacco control advocates to urge governments to adopt policies that shield young people from the manipulative practices of the tobacco and related industries, safeguarding the most vulnerable. 

Tobacco is a leading cause of death, illness and impoverishment, as an estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide use tobacco products, 80% of whom are in low- and middle-income countries, with data suggesting over 8 million people a year around the world die due to tobacco use, while around 1.3 million deaths are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. All forms of tobacco use are harmful, and there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco. Tobacco use also contributes to poverty by diverting household spending from basic needs such as food and shelter to tobacco. The economic costs of tobacco use are substantial and include significant health care costs for treating the diseases caused by tobacco use as well as the lost human capital that results from tobacco-attributable morbidity and mortality.

The scale of this human and economic tragedy is shocking, but it’s also preventable. #WBFA #midwives facilitate ‘taboo’ conversations early on during our Adolescent Skills & Drills #PSHE #WASH programme, and create inclusive safe spaces where the younger generation are empowered to take control of their health, and address topics like tobacco and substance abuse with their peers, families and communities, making them champions and partners in #WellbeingForAll. 

#WellbeingEconomy 
#NoTobacco 
#FrontlineFriday
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As President and Founder of the @WellbeingAfrica Foundation, I had the distinct pleasure of facilitating an on-the-ground visit for our global partners from @ThisisReckitt to Model Primary School in Maitama, Abuja, to assess our collaborative frontline impact and commitment to fostering health and hygiene among students through the #WBFA @DettolNigeria Hygiene Quest programme.

Our Phase 2 implementation is already demonstrating significant results, which recently began in February of this year and will continue until January 2026, having thus far reached over 45,000 students, 13,000 mothers, and 12,000 community members in a few short months. This early success is a testament to the power of partnership and our shared vision for a healthier and more hygienic future for all. 

During our visit, we were greeted by Head Teacher, Ms Hajiya Mario Hassan, who expressed her deep gratitude for the programme’s selection of their school, as the contributions made, including the renovation of the #WASH Station and the establishment of the Hygiene Quest Wash Club, are making significant impact, as students showcased their knowledge of proper hand hygiene practices through engaging activities facilitated by WBFA’s Nurse Educator, Mrs Jennifer Ighalo.

Mr Kris Licht, Global CEO of Reckitt, commended the students for their enthusiastic participation and emphasised the importance of consistent use of handwashing stations, as I reflected on the recently commemorated Children’s Day, sharing the importance of handwashing with our younger generation, empowering them to be champions of change, reaffirming our commitment and efforts towards achieving the @UnitedNations Sustainable Development Goals, and #CleanNaija, with a joint goal to reach 6 million children in Nigeria by 2025. 

#WellbeingEconomy 
#WBFADHQ 
#PartnershipsForChange 
#WASHforWellbeing 💦
#WASHWednesday
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This week in #Nigeria, I am delighted to welcome, and honoured to host, longstanding trusted @WellbeingAfrica Programmatic, Advocacy and Policy Partners @ThisIsReckitt Global Delegation in Nigeria, led by Kris Licht, Global CEO, Patty O’ Hayer, Global Head of External Communications & Affairs, Hamzah Sarwar, Global Social Impact & Partnerships, Ranjay Radhakrishnan, Chief HR Officer, with Chief Olu Falomo, Chairman Reckitt Nigeria Limited, Akbar Ali Shah, General Manager, Reckitt Sub-Saharan Africa, Serra Bicak, Senior Vice President, Africa Middle East and ⁠Cassandra Uzo-Ogbugh, Head of External Comms & Partnerships, Reckitt Sub-Saharan Africa, at our initial welcome events, which held at the Transcorp Abuja.

This in-country visit embodies Reckitt Benckiser’s commitment to building a cleaner, healthier Nigeria in joint belief with #WBFA that access to high-quality hygiene, health and nutrition is a universal right. Driven by social impact as key to sustainability ambitions, Reckitt is harnessing the positive power of business to create meaningful and long-lasting change, investing in frontline community behavioural change and value-centred evidence-based learnings implemented by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa through the WBFA @DettolNigeria Hygiene Quest programme and curricula, which is accelerating the uptake of long-lasting #WASH habits in schools, healthcare facilities and communities across Nigeria.

With a fruitful week ahead during this significant milestone visit, and looking forward to insightful discussions with national stakeholders on beneficial socio-economic impact programming, I was also pleased to introduce our honoured @WellbeingAfrica Foundation #HygieneQuest partners to Mr Tony Elumelu, Chairman @TonyElumeluFoundation and @TranscorpGroup, @HeirsHoldings, @UbaGroup Directors, while exploring new opportunities for collaboration towards #WellbeingForAll to reinforce our mission to foster health initiatives, and showcasing the remarkable work we have been doing on the ground.

#WellbeingEconomy
#WBFADHQ
#PartnershipsForChange
#CleanNaija
#WASHforWellbeing 💦
#WASHWednesday
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“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.” ― Nelson Mandela

As I observed Nigerian Children’s Day yesterday, coinciding with the start of the @WHO Seventy-Seventh World Health Assembly in Geneva, under the theme All for Health, Health for All, I reflected on the state of our nation’s children as Nigeria has the largest youth population in the world, with 42% of our population under the age of 15, representing enormous potential and a significant responsibility.

Investing in our children, is an investment in our nation’s future, and the @WellbeingAfrica Foundation believes in taking action today aligned with the @UnitedNations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to advocate for every child to have every right to learn, to be healthy, and to be safe, shaping the history of tomorrow.

In commemoration, #WBFA Lagos Office organised a 0.9km @DettolNigeria Hygiene Quest Awareness Walk, with students and teachers from various schools, including Government Junior College Maroko, Akande Dahunsi Memorial Junior College, and Ilado Junior Secondary School, participating in the event, which included handwashing lessons, a spelling bee, and a dance competition, ensuring #WASH education was accessible and enjoyable, empowering them to be partners in their wellbeing.

With dedication to nurturing generations of healthy and fulfilling lives, the WBFA greatly values it’s sustained collaborations in advocating for health lifestyles for all with @WHONigeria, and the @FMOH_Nigeria, Nigeria #WalktheTalk, as in-country partners to #BeatNCDs, improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene practices, and build capacity for health workers, while spreading awareness of non-communicable diseases, including direct advocacy on closing the cancer care gap.

#ChildrensDay
#ForEveryChild
#WellbeingforAll
#WHA77 #HealthForAll
#TeenageTuesday
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