Global Speeches

SPEECH FROM May 5th, 2024

Midwives, healthcare colleagues, and distinguished guests, 

Happy International Day of the Midwife! 

My name is Toyin Saraki, Founder and President of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, a non-governmental organisation based in Nigeria with the aim of improving maternal, newborn and child health outcomes through midwifery-led frontline programming and global advocacy, and as the Inaugural Global Goodwill Ambassador of the International Confederation of Midwives and the World Health Organization Foundation Inaugural Global Health Ambassador, it is with great pleasure that I extend a warm welcome to the Virtual International Day of the Midwife, a 24-hour Online Conference centred on the 5th May for midwives and anyone interested in childbirth.

As we gather virtually from all corners of the globe, united by our shared commitment to improving maternal health outcomes, let us take a moment to reflect on the profound impact of midwifery in shaping the future of childbirth and beyond. This year, as we commemorate the International Day of the Midwife, our theme resonates deeply with the essence of sustainable midwifery: “Caring for Tomorrow’s World.” Indeed, as the guardians of life’s most sacred moments, midwives hold the key to nurturing a future where every mother and child receives the care and support they deserve while safeguarding the health of our planet for generations to come.

Central to our discussions today is the imperative of Respectful Maternity Care—an ethos which is at the heart of sustainable midwifery. Respectful Maternity Care is a guiding principle that highlights the importance of treating every woman with dignity, compassion, and empathy throughout her childbirth journey. It is about honouring her autonomy, respecting her choices, and upholding her rights, regardless of background or socioeconomic status.

At the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, our flagship Mamacare360 programme is aimed at Goal 3 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, good health and wellbeing for all, and our WBFA midwives work to improve maternal health by promoting Respectful Maternity Care for all women during pregnancy, childbirth, and in the time after birth, as we see the link between pregnant women and their primary health givers as vital to their health after delivery and that of their newborn.

Mamacare360 delivers care in line with the World Health Organization recommendations for pregnant women to increase the number of contact with healthcare providers throughout their pregnancy, from four to at least eight. Mamacare360 is bridging an identified gap in achieving the best outcomes, by making the mother a premium partner in her own outcome, through education and awareness in birth preparedness. 

The Mamacare360 birth preparedness programme of antenatal and postnatal education uses tools such as Emergency Obstetrics and Newborn Care (EmONC), client-held Personal Health Records (PHRs) and Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) to empower the mother by engendering health information and education, during that key eleven-month (antenatal and postnatal) nest and nurture period. Alongside this, through the development and distribution of the now ubiquitous clean delivery Mamakit, which has been adopted, replicated, and amplified so widely across the country, we ensure that every pregnant woman has sanitary and sterile delivery materials with her, to encourage safe hospital deliveries.

Furthermore, as we champion RMC, we must also recognise the integral role of mental health in maternity care. The journey to motherhood is a profound and transformative experience—one that can be accompanied by a myriad of emotions, from joy and excitement to fear and uncertainty. Yet, all too often, the mental health needs of mothers are overlooked or marginalised.

Beyond the physical aspects of care, midwives are uniquely positioned to address the holistic needs of expectant mothers, including their mental health. Maternal mental health is an essential component of overall well-being during the perinatal period, impacting not only the mother but also the child and family dynamics. Midwives provide compassionate support, guidance, and resources to help mothers navigate the emotional challenges that often accompany pregnancy and childbirth. By promoting mental wellness and early intervention for issues such as postpartum depression and anxiety, midwives contribute significantly to the long-term health and happiness of both mothers and their families. Their expertise in fostering a nurturing and supportive environment empowers women to embark on their journey into motherhood with confidence and resilience.

The Wellbeing Foundation Africa is proud to be a longstanding technical policy, advocacy, and planning partner to the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and most recently, has developed and integrated Nigeria’s Perinatal Mental Health Checklist within the National Primary Health Care Development Agency Maternal and Child Health MCH Handbook,  highlighting the shared commitment to improving access to primary, secondary and tertiary mental health and wellbeing services for all people in Nigeria, through the structured unification of national policy efforts towards achieving universal health coverage for mental health and encouragement of full implementation of the provisions of the National Mental Health Act of 2021.

Today as we action RMC and our work towards improving maternal mental health, let us also recommit ourselves to ensuring that every mother receives the quality care she deserves and strive to create environments that foster resilience, offer support, and break down the stigma surrounding maternal mental health.

As we navigate the complexities of childbirth in an ever-changing world, let us draw inspiration from the resilience and dedication of midwives everywhere. Together, we have the power to shape a future where every birth is a joyous occasion, every mother is empowered, and every child thrives.

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for your unwavering dedication to the noble profession of midwifery. Your tireless efforts, compassion, and advocacy are the bedrock of maternal health, and it is through your collective action that we will continue to make positive strides. 

Thank you, and may this Virtual International Day of the Midwife be a source of inspiration and collaboration, as we forge ahead on our shared workstream towards sustainable midwifery and maternal wellbeing!

SPEECH FROM May 1st, 2024



Midwives, healthcare colleagues, and distinguished guests,

My name is Toyin Saraki, Founder and President of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, a non-governmental organisation based in Nigeria with the aim of improving maternal, newborn and child health outcomes through midwifery-led frontline programming and global advocacy, and as the Inaugural Global Goodwill Ambassador of the International Confederation of Midwives and the World Health Organization Foundation Inaugural Global Health Ambassador, it is with great pleasure that I extend a warm welcome to the Summit on Unifying Midwifery in Africa: Reimagine, Reignite, Rise!

Firstly, I would like to thank the Summit Leadership, led by a 12-member Steering Committee, co-chaired by CEHDAR, for providing us a platform today, to gather during a pivotal moment in our collective efforts to collaborate and engage with African midwives, midwifery leaders, and supporters, and facilitate strategic discussions to decide the way forward towards a united African midwifery system for Africa, with a singular focus on enhancing the health and wellbeing of mothers, children, and adolescents.

As we convene here today, we are reminded of the profound impact that midwives have on the lives of countless individuals and families. Each midwife is a steward of life, as the caregiver, protector, teacher and advocate, guiding newborns through their tender first few crucial moments, and cradling mothers as they navigate the vast expanse of motherhood’s embrace, all while safeguarding the sanctity of birth.

The recent State of the World’s Midwifery report has established that when midwives are educated to international standards, and midwifery includes the provision of family planning, it could avert more than 80% of all maternal deaths, stillbirths and neonatal deaths. Achieving this impact also requires midwives to be licensed, regulated, fully integrated into health systems, and working in interprofessional teams. Therefore, the evidence is unequivocal: when midwives are equipped with the necessary education, resources, and support, they have the power to avert a significant portion of maternal and newborn deaths and can achieve global, regional, and national RMNCAH goals.

Yet, despite the invaluable contributions of midwives, we find ourselves confronted with a stark reality—a shortage of these vital healthcare professionals, particularly in Africa, where the need is vast. This reality demands our urgent attention and concerted action, for every mother, every child, and every adolescent deserves access to quality healthcare, and we must rise to meet this challenge head-on, transforming the trajectory.

According to the International Confederation of Midwives, the three key pillars of a profession are education, regulation, and professional association. This is to be supported by strong policy, leadership, sound governance, and a formidable workforce management system within an atmosphere of respect for the voices of midwives for mothers, their newborns and the profession of midwifery by midwives.

As we convene in Ghana today, I commend the Ghana Registered Midwives Association which is amongst the oldest of such organisations in Africa and highlight that we stand on the cusp of a new chapter—one defined by revitalisation, reimagination, and resurgence, especially in unifying the voice of midwifery across the continent, which has refound support and leadership – envisioning an African continent where competent midwives are available in all settings to provide quality midwifery care in partnership with women, their families and the community.

As we mobilise African midwives to translate and culturally adapt the global health agenda to align with regional and national-level evidence-based interventions and promote the African maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health agenda for 2030 and beyond; over the next three days at this summit, you will engage in meaningful discussions, deliberate on key issues, and chart a course towards a defined African midwifery system, drawing upon the wisdom and expertise of participants from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, unified by a common purpose: to empower midwives, strengthen midwifery associations, and improve health outcomes for all.

At the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, we have worked with the federal and regional governments of Nigeria to improve the training, working conditions and remuneration of midwives, as well as deploying midwives to underserved, rural areas of the country, and we continuously witness first-hand how our interventions would have limited impact without competent, educated, and empowered WBFA midwives, who are at the core of our frontline work and the protagonists in achieving safe births and lowering maternal mortality and morbidity rates, in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3, Good Health and Well-being.

As we embark on this journey, let us reflect on the popular African proverb, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ The task before us may seem daunting, but it is not insurmountable. With determination, perseverance, and solidarity, we can—and we will—forge a flourishing and healthier future for midwifery in Africa.

Thank you!

SPEECH FROM March 27th, 2024



Students and Distinguished Guests,

My name is Toyin Saraki, and I am the Founder and President of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, an NGO headquartered in Nigeria which works to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for women and children across the country. WBFA prioritises frontline impact with global advocacy, in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It is with great honour that I join you today to provide the keynote address at this year’s LSE Africa Summit. This summit, renowned for its commitment to exploring the complexities and opportunities across Africa’s socio-economic landscape, is a testament to the collective dedication towards shaping a more prosperous future for our continent.

The theme of this year’s summit, “African Minds Transforming Futures: Building Resilient Education Systems,” highlights one of the most critical pillars of development in Africa: education, and is especially attuned to the African Union theme of this year: “Educate an African fit for the 21st Century: Building Resilient Education Systems for Increased Access to Inclusive, Lifelong, Quality, and Relevant Learning in Africa”.

Even with a substantial increase in the number of African children with access to basic education, a large number still remain out of school, with nearly 20.2 million children in Nigeria not in school even though primary education is officially free and compulsory, and according to UNESCO out of the 244 million children aged 6 to 18 not in school globally, more than 40%, or 98 million of them, live in sub-Saharan Africa. This reality calls for concern.

Education is not merely about acquiring knowledge, it is the cornerstone upon which resilient societies are built, economies flourish, and futures are transformed. Without education, where would any of us be today? Every single person in this room knows education transforms lives, economies and societies. However, the reality we face across much of Africa, particularly in Nigeria, highlights the urgency of addressing the myriad challenges plaguing our education systems, which continue throughout the span of life, from post-secondary education or upskilling much later on in a profession.

What are the barriers preventing children, women and the most marginalised communities from accessing education? The answers are multifaceted but rooted in systemic issues such as poverty, gender inequality, cultural norms, and inadequate infrastructure. For many children in Nigeria, especially girls and women living in rural areas, the journey to school or university is fraught with obstacles, ranging from long distances to lack of proper facilities and safety concerns.

Furthermore, the quality of education offered, even for those fortunate enough to attend school, often falls short of providing the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in an increasingly competitive global landscape. The brain drain from Nigeria has also had a severe impact on the country’s educational system, as the lack of qualified teachers and professors has been especially detrimental to providing quality education opportunities to many citizens.

Education is in serious crisis, and progress towards the attainment of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education, needs to be enhanced. Globalisation patterns and pressures in our increasingly interconnected world have brought remarkable gains yet, we are keenly aware that the benefits are yet to reach all. Equitable inclusive access to lifelong quality education for all, ensuring that people, especially, women and children match the 21st century global and local marketplaces, will enable adolescents and adults with knowledge and competency to participate in socio-economic, political and civic life.

Despite having the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria faces a shortage of skilled workers hindering its growth. The roots of Nigeria productivity crisis burrow deep into the failures of its education sector. As per UNESCO’s data, Nigeria’s illiteracy rate was a staggering 59% among youths and 65% among adults over 15 years old. Despite the glaring need for reform, the government’s budget allocation to education has consistently been less than the recommended 26% by UNESCO. Addressing these challenges require a concerted effort from all stakeholders – governments, civil society, the private sector, and the international community. 

Education is indispensable to productivity, progress and prosperity, and as the African Union promises to contribute towards revitalised, quality, relevant, and harmonised education systems responsive to the needs of Africa, it is necessary to take into account Africa’s aspiration and capacity in terms of human and material resources for sustainability, longevity and equality. We must prioritise investments in education, not as an expenditure but as an investment in the future prosperity of our nations. 

This means allocating sufficient resources to improve infrastructure, train teachers, and ensure that every child and adolescent, regardless of gender or socio-economic background, has access to quality education. Moreover, we must tackle the root causes of inequality which perpetuate the cycle of educational deprivation. This entails empowering marginalised communities, particularly women and girls, and addressing cultural norms that hinder their access to education. 

When a girl is educated, she grows up into a woman who has the adequate knowledge, information and skill to ensure the welfare of her family, the health and wellbeing of her children and the impact her actions have on her community. As the Founder and President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, I am proud to say that we are committed to playing our part in this transformative journey. 

The Wellbeing Foundation Africa has been at the forefront of prioritising education and investing in the lives of children, adolescents, adults and the elderly in Nigeria and across Africa. Since inception in 2004, WBFA has actively engaged in advocacy, writing of educational materials, policy papers and articles to promote education and implementation of health education programmes in collaboration with its local and global partners. Our learnings, guidance and recommendations are currently being actualized through various programmes such as our Adolescent Skills and Drills, Personal, Social and Health Education and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programme, implemented by a team of committed experts in public health and education who lead our on the ground community trusted grassroots programming. 

We are working tirelessly to ensure that every girl, child, adolescent and adult in Nigeria has the opportunity to fulfil their potential through education, but our efforts alone are not enough. We need collective action, collaboration, and innovation to build resilient education systems that can withstand the challenges of today and prepare our youth for the opportunities of tomorrow. This requires thinking beyond traditional models of education and embracing technology, entrepreneurship, and interdisciplinary approaches to learning. 

Nelson Mandela famously called education “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The future of Africa depends on the investments we make in education today, equipping our children, youth and adults with the tools, skills, and possibility of imagination necessary to shape and transform the Africa around them, making their community and society better, more prosperous, and, hopefully, more peaceful in the years ahead.  

It is evident today, as you take part in the summit and share dialogue, that each student of the London School of Economics has the drive and resources to be the force behind the realisation of our shared educational vision. Each of  you is armed with knowledge, passion, and a commitment to excellence, embodying the African minds capable of transforming futures and building resilient education systems. Each of you has ideas, advocacy, and unwavering determination, to not only shape the future of Africa but also inspire global change. I look forward to continuing to support the students of LSE and the Programme for African Leadership, as through our joint efforts we will truly create a world where education is the key to unlocking the full potential of every African child, every African community, and every African nation.      

Thank you. 


National Speeches

SPEECH FROM April 24th, 2024

Goodwill Message:


Theme: “POW(H)ER CONNECT: Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers”

Distinguished Guests and Healthcare Professionals,

It is with immense pleasure that I join you today on this momentous occasion, as we gather for the Women in Healthcare Forum in collaboration with the Women in Healthcare Network at the Shiro Restaurant in the Landmark Centre today.

My name is Toyin Saraki, and I am the Founder and President of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, an NGO headquartered in Nigeria which works to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for women and children across the country. WBFA prioritises frontline impact with global advocacy, in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

First and foremost, I want to extend a heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Dupe Elebute-Odunsi and all the founding members of the Women in Healthcare Network Nigeria for their dedication, vision, and unwavering commitment to empowering women in the healthcare sector. Your leadership is truly inspiring, and it’s an honour to be part of this incredible journey with you.

Today, as we come together under the theme “POW(H)ER CONNECT: Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers,” we embark on a journey of empowerment, collaboration, and positive change. We recognise the pivotal role that women play in healthcare, not just in Nigeria but around the world.

Women make up 70% of the global health and social workforce, and it is estimated that women provide essential health services for around 5 billion people worldwide. According to The Lancet, in Nigeria nearly all midwives, 87% of nursing personnel, and 65% of medical doctors are women. While the financial value of women’s input into health systems is estimated to be over US$3 trillion annually, women’s contributions to health and the health labour market remain markedly undervalued, and they are vastly underrepresented in leadership positions.

Women in health tend to be clustered into lower status, low paid, and often unpaid roles. The healthcare development agenda in Nigeria and across Africa must better value women’s contributions to the population’s physical, social and mental wellbeing. Alongside this, equity issues pertaining to decent work free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, including sexual harassment; gender pay gap; occupational segregation by gender and leadership are important for all United Nations member states to address if the 15 million health worker shortfall to achieve Universal Health Care is to be redressed in an equitable, inclusive and sustainable way.
These disparities are not just a statistic—it’s a challenge that we must collectively address and overcome, as gender equity is key to building resilient health systems and gender transformative health and social care policies to achieve health and wellbeing for all.

Women in Healthcare Network’s mission to connect, inform, and inspire women in the healthcare industry is more important now than ever before. By providing a platform for networking, mentorship, education, and advocacy, today’s Women in Healthcare Forum will empower women to reach their full potential and break through the barriers that hold them back. Yet our work does not stop there, we must also confront the systemic challenges that hinder women’s progress in healthcare, whether it’s gender disparities in leadership roles or the lack of access to financial support for women-led healthcare ventures and opportunity to upskill for women healthcare workers.
As we look forward to the sessions planned for today, let us do so with open minds, compassionate hearts, and a shared commitment to driving positive change for all women in healthcare. “Where Women Lead in Health, Transformation Tends to Follow” – in the realm of healthcare, where women take leadership roles, transformative changes tend to follow.

I am confident that today’s forum will not only inspire us but also galvanise us into action. Together, we have the power to shape the future of healthcare, to break down barriers, and to build equitable bridges that pave the way for a more inclusive and healthier tomorrow.

Thank you.

SPEECH FROM March 8th, 2024

Today, on International Women’s Day, I was honoured to virtually provide the goodwill speech at the 2024 National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies International Women’s Day Celebration!

Under the exemplary leadership of the Director-General, Professor Abubakar Suleiman, a veritable ‘He4She’ who has significantly contributed to uplifting Nigeria – NILDS has been a steadfast champion for gender equality and inclusion, providing essential support and resources to engender women in overcoming obstacles and achieving their full potential. From advocating for women’s rights to promoting women’s representation in governance, NILDS has been at the forefront of driving meaningful change and creating opportunities for women to excel.

As a Member of the UN Women African Women’s Leadership Network and serving on the Steering Council of the African Women Leadership Network Nigeria, I stand witness to the spirit of African and Nigerian women and their integral role in shaping our nation’s democratic evolution. By channelling the principles of aspirational agendas such as the African Union Agenda 2063 and the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa Women, Girls & Gender Development Target actions encapsulate a vision which recognises and empowers the birth-to-age rights of women and girls.

With Senior Leadership from the Wellbeing Foundation Africa in attendance, we gathered under the theme “Inspire Inclusion,” and were reminded of the importance of recognising and celebrating the contributions of both men and women towards the empowerment of Nigerian women and their increased participation in governance.

This #IWD2024 celebration led by NILDS highlighted the progress we have made while acknowledging the work that still lies ahead. When we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world, and when women themselves are inspired to be included, there’s a sense of belonging and empowerment. Collectively, let’s forge a more inclusive world for women.

Happy #InternationalWomensDay!

SPEECH FROM February 16th, 2024

Goodwill Speech:

Good Morning Honourable Ministers; Esteemed dignitaries; Distinguished Guests; Thank you to the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Tropical Health & Education Trust and Ducit Blue Solutions for hosting the Global Health Workforce Programme Nigeria Launch Event today.

I am Toyin Saraki, the Founder and President of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, an NGO which works to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for women, infants and children across Nigeria, prioritising frontline impact with global advocacy, in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and UNFPA ICPD Programme of Action and Three Zeros, in particular zero maternal deaths by 2030.

I am honoured to address you today as we launch pivotal partnerships to enhance and advance healthcare across the nation, including the the Wellbeing Foundation Africa partnership with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in advancing Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care competency-based curriculum for resident doctors in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria.

This partnership, supported by the Global Health Workforce Programme funded by the UK Department of Health and Social Care and managed by the Tropical Health and Education Trust and Ducit Blue, underscores our commitment to strengthening the healthcare workforce in Nigeria. Leveraging our previous partnership with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, leaders in implementing and evaluating interventions and combining research with capacity strengthening in EmONC, we covered 51 HCFs in 16 LGAs in Kwara State between 2015-2020, establishing thirteen emergency obstetric and newborn care skill rooms comprising of ten main skill labs and three mini labs, benefiting over 700 healthcare providers directly, and reaching an estimated 62,900 women and their newborns, recording a 38% reduction in facility stillbirth rate, leading to the development of the Centre of Excellence. WBFA and LSTM aim to continue to collaboratively elevate healthcare delivery standards while advancing towards Universal Health Coverage for all, as fostering a more robust and sustainable healthcare workforce is paramount to ensuring the delivery of high-quality healthcare services and achieving UHC.

A well-trained and adequately supported healthcare workforce forms the backbone of all healthcare systems, serving as the frontline in addressing the diverse healthcare needs of populations. By investing in continuous professional development and training programmes, particularly in critical areas such as Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care, we not only equip healthcare professionals with the necessary skills and competencies to provide timely and effective care but also contribute to reducing maternal and neonatal mortality rates, as according to the World Health Organization, the lifetime risk of a Nigerian woman dying during pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum or post-abortion is 1 in 22, in contrast to the lifetime risk in developed countries estimated at 1 in 4900.

Our objectives are clear and resolute. We aim to engage OBGYN students in post-graduate medical education, adapt training packages for revision courses and examination OSCE, establish advanced EmONC Centers of Excellence in Abuja and Lagos, and ensure the sustainability of these centres for postgraduate OBGYN revision courses. Furthermore, we are committed to supporting the NPMCN in providing training to residents, ensuring quality assurance, and rigorously evaluating the programme for maximum impact and effectiveness.

Central to the success of this programme are the esteemed experts from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (Nigeria Liaison Group) and the experienced master trainers in advanced EmONC provided by LSTM. Their invaluable insights and guidance will undoubtedly contribute to the robustness and efficacy of our initiative, ultimately benefiting the healthcare landscape of our nation.

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all our partners, stakeholders, government officials, dignitaries, and supporters who have joined us today. Your unwavering commitment and steadfast support will ensure we reach our mission of providing quality health and wellbeing for mothers and newborns across Nigeria.