October 16, 2012
Oct 16

Press Release: Chelsea Clinton and CHAI support the Government of Nigeria’s Saving One Million Lives launch

Abuja, Nigeria
Press Release

Estimated 220,000 child deaths to be prevented by 2015 when scale-up targets met

Partners join forces in new coalition to End Diarrheal Deaths formed in Nigeria; 20 sign pledge/15 new commitments secured

October 16, 2012, Abuja, NIGERIA — On behalf of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Chelsea Clinton will join President Goodluck Jonathan, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway, Honourable Minister of State for Health of Nigeria Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate, representatives of leading non-governmental organizations, business leaders, and civil society at the Saving One Million Lives (SOML) launch event at the Presidential State house today. Chelsea Clinton will highlight the Government of Nigeria’s leadership and efforts to reduce child mortality by rapidly increasing access to the most effective diarrhea treatment—zinc and oral rehydration solutions (ORS). Increasing the percent of children with diarrhea who receive ORS and zinc to 80% by 2015 could help prevent 220,000 Nigerian children from dying. 

An estimated one million mothers and children die each year in Nigeria from preventable diseases, including 100,000 deaths due to diarrhea. In response, the Government of Nigeria is launching an historic effort to dramatically reduce these preventable deaths. CHAI has been working closely with the Government to help realize this vision.

CHAI began its work in Nigeria in 2007 with programs including in the Niger Delta to strengthen the conflicted region’s HIV/AIDS service infrastructure, which has resulted in a 350% increase in pediatric testing and 70% increase in access to pediatric antiretroviral drugs. CHAI is now taking this vanguard approach to improve access to essential medicines for children, helping to unite businesses, NGOs, and donor organizations around this cause in support of SOML.

Under this program, the Ministry has set a new goal of saving one million lives of women and children and improving the quality of care in Nigeria in 2013 by focusing on evidence-based interventions expected to have the greatest impact on lives saved. Chelsea Clinton, Board Member of CHAI, along with senior representatives from the Nigerian Governors Forum, Nigerian Private Sector Health Alliance (NPSHA), Traditional Leaders/Royal Fathers, and Development Partners Group (DPG) on Health, delivered goodwill messages during the launch event today.

Scaling up childhood essential medicines—including zinc and ORS for diarrhea—is one of the key pillars of the new platform. Zinc and ORS can prevent over 90% of diarrhea-related deaths and cost less than $0.50, yet less than 2% of children in the country are currently using the complete treatment.

The SOML launch and focus on zinc and ORS comes at a critical time as the global commitment to these high-impact interventions continues to grow. The UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children, co-chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Prime Minister Stoltenberg of Norway recently released a new plan and bold recommendations for improving access to 13 essential but neglected commodities, including zinc and ORS. This week, the co-chairs hosted an Implementation meeting in Abuja with ministerial-level representation from 8 countries.

At the national level, the Government of Nigeria has demonstrated unprecedented leadership and commitment to scaling up zinc and ORS. Earlier this year, the Government developed its first ever National Essential Medicines Scale-up Strategy, with support from CHAI, which specifies national coverage targets and prioritizes key actions in the next 3 years. The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC) also approved a key policy change that will allow broad commercial marketing and distribution of zinc by categorizing both products as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs for sale in the country.

“Nigeria is on the verge of a historic breakthrough toward reducing the number of children who die from diarrhea every year,” said Chelsea Clinton, who is a board member of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI).  “The leadership, commitment, and diverse coalition of partners supporting this initiative is extraordinary, and CHAI is proud to be a part of it.   Nigeria is an example for other countries facing similar challenges.”

Leaders from Nigeria’s public and private sectors have also come forward to support national scale-up efforts. Yesterday, the Government of Nigeria, CHAI, MDG Health Alliance, the Wellbeing Foundation and the UN Foundation hosted a Roundtable event to announce a broad coalition of partners to support the effort, recognizing the need for collective action from the government, NGOs, private companies, civil society and key partners. As captured in the “Pledge to Eliminate Child Diarrheal Deaths in Nigeria” signed at the event, partners have committed to supporting three key actions that will be essential to success: (1) Building demand among caregivers and health providers for ORS and zinc, (2) Ensuring widespread availability of affordable and high-quality ORS and zinc, and (3) Mobilizing attention and resources to support scale-up of zinc and ORS. 

A broad range of organizations have also made specific and significant commitments to support the national effort to reduce diarrhea mortality amongst children in Nigeria including:

Bates Cosse

CHI Pharmaceuticals

Fidson Healthcare PLC

McCann Health

Micronutrient Initiative

National Association of Proprietary Patent Medicine Dealers (NAPPMED)

Nigerian German Chemicals

Nigerian Inter-Faith Action Association (NIFAA)



Partnership for Transforming Health Systems Phase II (PATHS2)

Society for Family Health (SFH)

Strengthening Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS)


Well Being Foundation Africa

 A copy of the Pledge and more information about the commitments will be available at the SOML event. The event will begin at 10:00 AM on Tuesday October 16th, 2012. .


Background on Diarrhea Treatment Efforts to Date

In pursuit of the fourth Millennium Development Goal to reduce child mortality, the Nigerian Ministry of Health has made progress in expanding access to essential medicines for children. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCA) has been leading the development of an Integrated Community Case Management (ICCM) program to treat childhood illnesses, which includes improving access to zinc and ORS, among other commodities, at the community level. The Government has also implemented the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMNCI) strategy to build health worker capacity, ensure drug availability, and enhance care-seeking and treatment adherence among caregivers. These efforts lay a strong foundation for continued progress in the national effort to reduce diarrhea mortality amongst children in Nigeria.

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