Health Advocate and Chief Executive Officer, Vaccine Network for Disease Control, VNDC, Chika Offor has lamented the exclusion of young people and people living with disabilities in the designing and execution of the Nigerian Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent and Elderly Health plus Nutrition, RMNCAEH+N, Response Continuity/Recovery Plan of 2020 – 2022.
Offor made this known while speaking with our correspondent at the sidelines of the Two Day Strategic Retreat with NGOs, Young People and the Media, organized by the Africa Health Budget Network, AHBN, in collaboration with Community Health and Research Initiative, CHRI.
She explained that when these groups are not brought to the table during the planning phase, it is most likely that the interests will not be properly captured, leading to waste of scarce resources.
Offor emphasized that there is the need to always carry everyone along especially the young ones as it does not just ensure their peculiar needs are captured, but provides an avenue for mentoring.
“Every group is important and that is the key. So it is very important that gender, people living with disabilities, the vulnerable groups and the youths are included. The youths are very important.
“People sometimes pay lip service to youth inclusion and that is very painful, you know. Because many youths have several powerful ideas that if you are bale to listen and fine tune, you will come up with very robust strategies that will support Universal Health Coverage, UHC.”
Also speaking, Chair of the Pact, Ekanem Itori, participating from one of the youth-led organisations, expressed displeasure that government often leaves out young people during the planning of its interventions and programmes.
“For the RMNCAEH+H Plan, it’s probably new to the people at this meeting, so it only shows that there was a poor engagement of youths when they were even developing the plan and I think it is not far-fetched from every programme that we’ve been running.
“And we have been asking government that in every programme, in every intervention not when you are implementing but actually when you are developing the idea, the concept of the whole intervention, you need to actually include youths. And I mean for the RMNCAEH Plan, it only shows that yes, there was poor engagement of youth-led organisations.”
Government was advised to take a cue from Non-Government Organisations and begin to imbibe the culture of ensuring that everyone is carried along in the scheme of things.