Microsoft co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, on Wednesday said Nigeria needs a much bigger financial commitment to improve its primary health system across the country.
According to him, in Nigeria, state and Federal Government spend the equivalent of $10 per person on health each year, compared to $31 in sub-Saharan Africa.
Gates disclosed this during a conversation with young science and innovation champions in Africa hosted by the Co-creation Hub and the University of Lagos Business School in Ikeja, Lagos State, themed, ‘Advancing Africa: Unleashing the Power of Youth in Science and Innovation’.
He said government and business leaders in the country need to invest in equitable solutions and the people who are working on them.
The Gates Foundation’s founder emphasised that improving the health systems of the country will help to unlock all of Nigeria’s potential.
He said, “The message that I shared with President Tinubu on Monday, and what I will share with other leaders tomorrow (Thursday), is that they must invest in equitable solutions and invest in the people who are working on them.
“Nigeria is full of talented people with a lot of potential. But it can be very hard to fulfil that potential if you don’t have access to the most basic building blocks of life.
“It may not surprise you that Nigeria’s state and federal governments only spend the equivalent of $10 per person on health each year, compared to $31 in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. Leaders need to make a much bigger financial commitment, focused most of all on improving primary health systems.
“Making sure clinics are well-staffed and supplied, making sure children get the vaccines they need all of this is absolutely essential to improving health and opportunity and unlocking all of Nigeria’s potential.
“I will also be talking with Nigeria’s government leaders about increasing commitments to agriculture and digital financial systems. Young people in Nigeria have shown how passionate they are about progress. I know that you will encourage your leaders to follow through on these kinds of commitments.”
On his commitment to improving healthcare in Nigeria, he said the Gates Foundation partnered with talented people and organisations in providing a solution driving initiatives.
He said, “Since our founding, Africa has been at the heart of our mission to ensure everyone has the chance to live healthy, productive lives. We have long partnered with talented people and organisations hard at work in Nigeria.
“That includes Solina and HSCL, which are working to ensure that health facilities in rural Nigeria have enough trained staff and resources. The Society for Family Health increases access to family planning options through drug shops and community pharmacies.
“TechnoServe is giving people the tools they need to build successful businesses, and GAIN is making sure the flour and oil you buy for your family is fortified with essential nutrients.
“I know the problems you face are persistent. But so are the people solving them. I am looking forward to seeing all the ways that, together, you make life in Nigeria better for everyone.”