January 24, 2020

Accelerating Healthy Futures: Toyin Saraki and Wellbeing Foundation Africa call for a Decade of Action and a New ‘Development Dialogue’ to Ensure Health Futures at World Economic Forum 50th Annual Meeting 2020, Davos.

January 24, 2020

Accelerating Healthy Futures: Toyin Saraki and Wellbeing Foundation Africa call for a Decade of Action and a New ‘Development Dialogue’ to Ensure Health Futures at World Economic Forum 50th Annual Meeting 2020, Davos.

“I strongly agree with Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder-Chairman of the World Economic Forum, that we can accelerate progress as stakeholders for a cohesive and sustainable future. Around the world, people are revolting against the economic elites, which they have believe have betrayed them. Water, sanitation and hygiene results are falling dangerously behind and nowhere is inequality more stark than in the health conditions of women, children, and adolescents. Yet when women lead, change happens – in Nigeria, between 2010 and 2015, we measured a 35% increase in maternity survival due to the introduction of the Midwives Service Scheme which saw 4400 more midwives deployed within the public health system. As the world unites to celebrate this 2020 Year of the Nurse and Midwife, I hope to mobilise support and resources for midwifery competencies, to demonstrate safer birth solutions for healthy futures for all within the Davos Manifesto 2020.”  – Toyin Saraki, Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, made a series of interventions at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland.

This year’s meeting, which focuses on the theme ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World,’ brought together nearly 3,000 participants from 117 countries, including 53 heads of state and leaders from business, civil society, academia, media and the arts. This year’s annual meeting coincides with the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, as dedicated by the World Health Organization – a year in which Mrs Saraki, as the Global Goodwill Ambassador of the International Confederation of Midwives, is committed to uniting, mobilising, demonstrating, and celebrating midwife competencies as frontline professionals crucial to achieving universal health coverage.

This week at Davos, Mrs Saraki, who commented “As a member of the United Nations and African Union’s Africa Women Leaders Initiative, we know that we examine our goals and progress through our gender lens” also participated in a series of high-level gender and diversity initiatives aiming to build progress towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal Five: Gender Equality. These include the ‘100,000 Women Campaign’: to transform the lives of over 100,000 women entrepreneurs in Lower and Middle-Income Countries by 2022, of the Cherie Blair Foundation; a fireside discussion on equality in the workplace hosted by the Female Quotient and Boston Consulting Group; the launch of British Vogue’s ‘Forces for Change’ hosted by Vanessa Kingori MBE and Natalia Vodianova as a previous awardee of the United Nations Fashion for Development Age of Humanity Award, and ‘When Women Lead, Change Happens’ hosted by UNAIDS and Reckitt Benckiser to discuss the role of educating women around sexual health, bringing health ministers, academics and business leaders together to collaborate on the realities of HIV/AIDS for young women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mrs Saraki, who initiated the “Clean Hands Save Lives” global advocacy campaign to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) conditions alongside the World Health Organization and other partners in 2018, addressed a high-level gathering on water scarcity and safety. The “Safe Water Saves Lives” panel with Reckitt Benckiser (RB) highlighted the success seen in water sanitation  projects in India and Nigeria and how this can be leveraged in other water-critical countries.

Mrs Saraki was joined by Karin Maria Krchnak, Head of Water Resources Group 2030 at The World Bank, Trisha Shetty, Founder, SheSays, Gary White, Founder & CEO of Water.org, Chinenye Monde-Anumihe, social justice and human rights activist and WEF Global Shaper, and Alice Moore, the brand lead for Harpic.

Mrs Saraki commented during her speech at the event:

“2020 must mark the beginning of a decade of action for the global community. We have only ten years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and it is twenty-five years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. We must honestly appraise the progress that we have made so far and appraise where we are still falling short.”

“Standards of water, sanitation and hygiene in Nigeria and globally continue to represent a major challenge. I welcome recent achievements and milestones, in particular WHO resolutions and country commitments, but WASH is one area where ‘business as usual’ is simply not good enough.”

“Since April 2018 when the Wellbeing Foundation Africa introduced new WASH in schools and hygiene in health care facilities and households programs, while advocating to reduce open defecation, we have measured considerable impact which gives us the courage to now insist on a rapid acceleration of our best-practice models engaging midwives as sanitation angels, to national scale.”

“As I reflect on the past few years of World Economic Forum meetings, my thinking has evolved: and it has become more widely accepted that the donor-recipient model of development is no longer fit for purpose. Primary health is the essential building block to ignite midwifery competencies which will fuel specialist expertise – relying on competencies on both sides and whole-system support.”

“This decade must bring us all to a more equal table. The era of ‘north-south’ is gone and must be replaced by a more balanced development dialogue based on mutual respect and understanding. That dialogue will bring about a learning exchange and help to celebrate, demonstrate, mobilise and unite the global health workforce, as outlined by the International Confederation of Midwives, for whom I am proud to serve as the Global Goodwill Ambassador.”

“In 2020, designated by the World Health Organization as the year of the Nurse and Midwife, we can kick-start the decade of action and place midwives at the core of that new dialogue and delivery. I look forward to continued work with my fellow stakeholders this week in Davos.”

Mrs Saraki’s bilateral and multisector engagements included: Funding the Future 2.0 – to catalyse investments that deliver on health, as the guest of Devex, MSD for Mothers, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation and Credit Suisse; Beyond Boundaries – The Transformative Power of Education and Healthcare, as a guest of Global Citizen Forum and Malaika; Africa Outlook: Economics, Innovation and Governance as a guest of the Global Citizen Forum, and Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals through National Leadership and Cross-sector Partnerships hosted by the Brookings Institute, the New York City Mayor’s Office for International Affairs and the United Nations Office for Partnerships.

Participating at the Rise Fund’s ‘Accelerating Impact – CEOs Leading The Charge Towards Positive Impact’, Mrs Saraki joined Jim Coulter, Maya Chorengel, and Steve Ellis at Davos House for the session, moderated by Alan Murray, president and CEO of Fortune, stating:

“I am hopeful that the private sector will rise to the challenge and work to urgently deliver the Sustainable Development Goals #SDGs”

“I was honoured to meet and engage with John Kerry, 68th United States Secretary of State, whose wise words resonated with me – we do have an obligation to protect the planet for our future generations, and we must deliver it urgently.”

“I very much enjoyed learning from the impact investing insights of Kelly Rinaudo, CEO of Zipline, Ken Njoroge, CEO Cellulant, Tom Davidson founder and CEO of EVERFI, Anne Finucane, Vice Chairman of Bank of America, and Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group”

Mrs Saraki concluded her Davos participation with a high-level intervention at UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, Royal Philips (Philips) – Building a Global Private Sector Coalition for Women and Girls Health and Wellbeing. This engagement built on the recent High-Level Breakfast Roundtable held in Lagos, Nigeria, hosted by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, in partnership with UNFPA. The roundtable convened private, philanthropic, and multi-sector stakeholders in Nigeria to secure a series of significant commitments towards the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Three Zeros: zero unmet need for contraception; zero preventable maternal deaths; and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices.


For further information please contact Presssecretary@wbfafrica.org

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