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13 years of writing weekly health column

This year in October, our weekly health column is 13 years old. As a tradition every year we dedicate the space to say few words…

This year in October, our weekly health column is 13 years old. As a tradition every year we dedicate the space to say few words of gratitude. This year I intend to share one example of ‘Impact’ story which we could attribute to what we are writing in our weekly column.
Before I delve in to that, I most sincerely say that we are more committed than before to continue being a portal for health information and advocacy .The survival of this column also signifies the relative peace and health condition on both the part of the writer and the editors. It is also a marker of a relative healthy working relationship between me and the management of Daily Trust Newspaper. And most importantly it is also a marker about the survival and endurance of Daily Trust as one of the respected and influential newspapers not only in Nigeria but Africa at large.
When I started this work even the editor of the paper  doubted my seriousness, “you have to share with me four  articles related to health at a go for me to be assured that you will not start this column and abruptly stop as many had done in the past”. Those were the words of  Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu former Daily Trust Editor, in September 2002 when I had a meeting with him and Mallam Kabiru Yusuf at their Lusaka Street Wuse Zone 6, Abuja Office of Daily Trust. I smiled at both of them and replied that “For now I will give you one article but I give you my word that I will not stop writing abruptly as I have carefully thought about this before this meeting and it is what I really want to be doing”.
The rest is now history as this column has not missed one week since its debut.
Coming back to share two examples of what happened in the last 12 months which we can attribute to some of our weekly writings. On Tuesday 27th January 2015 I published an article “Opportunities under new Global Financing Facility for Health” which was stimulated by a brief conversation I had with civil societies over a breakfast in Harare at a training on Health Budget Advocacy convened by WHO from 19th -23rd January 2015. Our breakfast discussion centered on the new mechanism ‘Global Financing Facility’ expected to be launched in July this year. The article commented about a report of the consultations related to the GFF.
I concluded my article with strong suggestion that the recommendations in the report should be followed closely to ensure they are incorporated in to the GFF business plan.
Some weeks after it was published, I was in Addis Ababa attending the Africa Union Heads of States Summit, and got an email from the secretariat of the GFF in World Bank Washington DC expressing their delight about the article. One thing led to another and we had a telephone meeting and I talked more on what I thought should be included in the business plan. I brought in an international colleague and friend in the telephone conversation with background to health economics’ who added more technical information as a recommendation.
At the end of the meeting we were in agreement to write a position paper and submit to them as another background information that could be utilized when finalizing the GFF business plan. I missed attending the meeting that finalized the business plan in Addis Ababa as I couldn’t secure a visa within short notice to the formal invitation that I got.
The 2nd article related to GFF was published on this page on 21st July 2015 tagged ‘Africa’s expectation of Global Financing Facility’. It was stimulated as an outcome of the Monday July 13, 2015 launch of the Global Financing Facility (GFF) in support of Every Woman Every Child by the United Nations Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon.
The event took place at the Africa Hall of the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the 3rd United Nations Finance for Development Conference. I attended the event where the World Bank Group announced a new GFF partnership with its International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) to raise funds from capital markets for countries with significant funding gaps for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH).
I summarized Africa’s expectation of the GFF as already manyAfrican NGOs were expressing concerns of not being actively involved and carried along by their governments during the engagement process as well as being part of the country platforms that will direct the affairs of GFF. And also observed that the GFF team should support a movement in Africa that lead to improve performance of GFF and accountability.
Nigeria our country is among the 2nd wave of countries that will benefit from GFF and to be supported to also improve domestic financial resources. Next week all the GFF countries will convene in Kenya to further discuss investment plans and share experience that will shape the GFF implementation and also receive recommendations from a pre CSOs meeting on how countries will ensure participation and accountability and I am happy to say that what we started in this health column has tremendously supported and influence impactful actions that will not only benefit Nigeria but many African countries.
In conclusion it is another time to sincerely thank the management of Daily Trust including its editors for allowing me to write on this page and pray for the paper’s sustainability, growth, expansion and development.

All comments to Dr Aminu Magashi, Publisher Health Reporters ([email protected])

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