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Now that Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate is the minister, what next?

Finally, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate is “the minister”. Beyond initial expectations, he is not just Nigeria’s Minister of Health but the Coordinating Minister of Health…

Finally, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate is “the minister”. Beyond initial expectations, he is not just Nigeria’s Minister of Health but the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare.

Delving deeper into his mandate reveals a multifaceted approach that extends beyond addressing immediate healthcare challenges. While the agenda certainly includes tackling issues within Nigeria’s healthcare sector, such as medical industrialisation, enhanced healthcare infrastructure, and bolstered vaccination programmes, it signifies a much grander vision. Pate’s expertise and experience stand poised to usher in a holistic strategy, one that encapsulates the broader well-being of Nigeria’s population.

This expanded portfolio envisions an integration of healthcare and social welfare initiatives, accentuating the importance of enriching the lives of citizens at various levels. Rather than simply focusing on curing ailments, the emphasis now shifts to prevention and overall quality of life enhancement. In contemplating the path forward under Pate’s guidance, several key dimensions come to the fore:

Comprehensive well-being

Pate’s leadership, bolstered by a mandate that encompasses both healthcare and social welfare, envisions an enriched quality of life for Nigerians. This translates into initiatives that address not only medical care but also the intricate web of social determinants that influence health. From education to clean water access, the focus extends to all factors that impact citizens’ well-being.

Holistic approach

A distinctive feature of this expanded portfolio is its holistic approach. The inclusion of social welfare intertwines health and societal aspects, aiming for a symbiotic relationship that results in a healthier and more prosperous populace. By bridging the gap between healthcare and social services, Pate envisions a unified strategy that generates amplified positive outcomes.

Coordination and collaboration

As Coordinating Minister, Pate occupies a unique position. A position that empowers him to foster collaboration across diverse government ministries and agencies. Recognising the intricate link between health and social welfare, this coordinated approach promises efficient utilisation of resources and a streamlined strategy to address complex social and demographic challenges.

Preventive focus

Prof. Pate’s background in preventive healthcare and disease control finds a harmonious fit within the realm of social welfare. By addressing critical issues like nutrition, sanitation, and access to clean water, he aims to preemptively avert a range of health challenges before they escalate. This proactive stance promises healthier communities and reduces strain on the healthcare system.

Inclusive policies

A cornerstone of Pate’s philosophy is his commitment to equity and inclusivity. This translates into policies and initiatives that prioritise vulnerable populations, ensuring that healthcare services and social support are accessible to all. The vision is of a society that embraces inclusivity and justice as fundamental principles.

Data-driven decision-making

The Honourable Coordinating Minister’s well-acknowledged emphasis on evidence-based approaches extends seamlessly into the realm of social welfare. By harnessing data on social indicators, he envisions a strategy that identifies trends, gaps, and specific challenges. This data-driven approach informs targeted interventions in areas such as education, poverty reduction, and social services.

The task that lies ahead is undeniably monumental, transcending the capacities of Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate as an individual. What we face demands a unified, collective endeavour. Thus, we must take inspiration from the visionary insights outlined in “The Lancet Nigeria Commission: Investing in Health and the Future of the Nation” document, a remarkable publication that bears the authorship of Prof. Pate himself, among others:

“Addressing Nigeria’s health challenges requires a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to prevent ill health. This means investing in highly cost-effective health-promoting policies and interventions which have extremely high cost–benefit ratios and offering clear political benefits for implementation. Interventions are needed to improve child nutrition, reduce indoor and outdoor air pollution, address unmet family planning needs, and improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation.”

This aligns seamlessly with Prof. Pate’s role as the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare. It propels policy-driven initiatives and investments beyond mere curative measures, fostering proactive and health-promoting schemes with remarkable cost–benefit ratios.

Beyond the immediate enhancement of public health, this paradigm shift envisions a society where health is enshrined as an inherent right, empowering citizens to steer their health destinies actively. This commitment to healthier communities and a society unified by well-being resonates as a potent force that transcends divisions and cultivates collaboration.

It unites stakeholders across sectors, harnessing collective strength to propel Nigeria toward a future where health is safeguarded, cultivated, and accessible to all.

Such an ambitious endeavour necessitates a framework for effective coordination, which fortuitously exists in the form of the Central Delivery Coordination Unit (CDCU) in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Rooted in the authority of Executive Order 12, this platform has already demonstrated its reliability in enhancing service delivery across sectors. Pate’s journey is therefore not starting from scratch; he inherits a foundation that empowers him to amplify coordination efforts effectively.

With a robust foundation in place, Pate’s visionary approach stands poised to usher in transformative change. As the journey commences in earnest, the nation looks ahead to a future where health and well-being stand at the forefront of progress.


Agbonika, a policy and governance reforms consultant, wrote from Abuja

[email protected]

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