The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole has inaugurated 26 Nigerians as national advocates for health. Speaking while inaugurating them during a review meeting in Abuja, the minister called on the advocates to help change the narrative on health at different levels within the country. He enjoined the advocates to use their influence and networks to call for improved health service delivery in Nigeria, particularly at the grassroots. He promised federal government’s commitment towards improved, refurbished and repositioned healthcare system that will accommodate issues of family planning. The minister decried what he called the looming population, saying it is a disaster in waiting to happen and called for collective advocacy towards population control. “We cannot allow our population to double in 2020 as I fear its explosion which will lead to more problems. Demographic dividends should be the expectation instead of demographic disasters”, he said. The advocates are a group of Nigerians identified and trained by the Federal Ministry of Health and the Health Policy Plus (HP+) project which is funded by USAID, to engage key stakeholders in the public and private sectors towards improving access to quality, affordable and safe family planning services in Nigeria. he advocates called for improved funding to increase access to family planning in the country. They said it was important to improve funding to ensure birth spacing, access to family planning commodities and to reduce maternal and child deaths. The HP+ project is implemented in three states namely Sokoto, Bauchi and Ebonyi. Country Director, Health Policy Plus, Onoriode Ezire, said the advocates were brought together to seek funding for health and that part of their job is to meet with ministers, members of the State and National Assembly and other key stakeholders. Ezire said the meeting was aimed at reviewing what the advocates had done in the last six months and to introduce them to other partners. He said: “In their individuals ways they have accomplished a lot and we think they can do a lot more. They have pledged to keep engaging government and legislators until there is improvement in funding.”

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