Throughout the pandemic, my Wellbeing Foundation Africa’s dedicated groundforce of 47 professional community midwives have stretched themselves to the furthest villages in Nigeria, to continue providing a continuum of care and counsel to 8,000 women monthly across six states. That’s because we know childbirth, newborn care, reproductive health, nutrition, the need for water, sanitation and hygiene, sexual and gender-based violence counselling and sexual assault referral centres cannot stop working during a pandemic. If the routine wellbeing work that we do should falter under the stress of the pandemic, its impact would be magnified well past the virus’ infections.
That my organisation knows intimately about the communities in which they serve and the complications and context specific to their regions and their people not only allows them to give aid and provide education in the most fitting way, but also allows me to be able to most accurately relay what nuances impact work on the frontline to stakeholders in the wider international development community, like at the United Nations General Assembly and the Concordia Summit this week. There have been calls for years to transition towards a locally-owned development sector, and my organisations from the Wellbeing Foundation Africa to Alaafia Kwara know fluently about the need to support women working and driving progress at the community level.
To put theory into practice translating community level work to the resources and might of global experts, I recently reached out to Concordia, who swiftly identified an amazing network of partners to help us come out of the pandemic stronger than ever before. Concordia understood the need for the Wellbeing Foundation to collaborate towards catalysing and financing a comprehensive community health care model with all basic services from conception and cradle to age. They recognised the necessary underpinnings of diagnostics and essential medicines supply chains, and bring a wellspring of excellence to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 across Nigeria sustainably, affordably, respectfully and in a way that is accessible to all. Because Concordia’s network of experts need the expertise of my locally-focused organisation and the Wellbeing Foundation Africa needs their expertise, I was proud to partner Concordia and my Wellbeing Foundation Africa for the Concordia Summit during the UNGA last week.
I had the honour and privilege of introducing the new Concordia Action Alliance, which is designed to support the year-round coordination of activities and the formation of partnerships that support disaster or global health response, recovery, resilience and prevention. Moreover, I was pleased that so many at the Concordia Summit’s event with Women Political Leaders agree that increasing the number of female leaders, in both politics and healthcare, is an essential component of strengthening global health and crisis resilience. The role of women amidst the pandemic is critical; as midwives, doctors, nurses and frontline healthcare workers, women are oftentimes making initial decisions for COVID-19 response and global health systems.
From strengthening multilateral relationships to improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene resources in Nigeria and around Africa to investing in the promise of technology to support our beleaguered healthcare systems, high-level meetings at the UNGA, and with Members of the Concordia Leadership Council, are important to coalesce our minds and directional strategies. By talking with leaders from other countries and experts from their respective fields, we are forming new pathways for progress for Nigeria’s complicated problems.
As a Leadership Council Member involved in the global health and humanitarian space, I’m grateful to entities like Concordia that can support coordination and offer flexible, rapidly deployed funding. Concordia’s high level programming and network drives forward a resilience agenda, and its commitment to action through partnership support is what ensures the work gets done on the ground.