Fostering Private Sector Partnerships to strengthen Nigeria’s health care system

Nigeria’s mixed health care system is characterised by sub-optimal maternal and child health outcomes, poor quality of health services, lack of protection from financial risk with persistent communicable diseases and rising non-communicable diseases – primarily due to lifestyle changes.

This translates to approximately one million women and children dying every year in Nigeria from largely preventable diseases such as malaria, childhood pneumonia, diarrheal diseases and malnutrition that accounts for more than 50 percent of under-five mortality rate, as well as, obstetric haemorrhage, eclampsia, sepsis, amongst other causes of maternal mortality in Africa’s most populous country.

With the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the international community has taken on an even more ambitious agenda to holistically address the unfinished agenda of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 and build the foundation for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all.

Despite a more complex and broad set of goals, health directly or indirectly underpins all 17 SDGs and is critical to promoting other favourable development outcomes, including economic growth. The transition from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provides a compelling opportunity for Nigeria to reshape its aspirations and engage the private sector through partnerships and innovative approaches with an overarching goal to support Nigeria’s Universal Health Coverage Agenda.

Over the last year, the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN) led by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mr Jim Ovia, Dr Muhammad Ali Pate, Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, and other corporate business leaders in Nigeria have made huge strides in accelerating improved health outcomes by mobilizing the private sector’s collective capabilities, influence (advocacy), innovation and resources to complement Governments’ efforts in achieving the health Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and accelerate improvement in the country’s health outcomes.

The Alliance has witnessed increased engagement with private sector corporates to offer their resources, expertise and capabilities to strengthen primary health care systems. PHN has also seen a growing appetite from corporates to facilitate impact investments in critical segments of the health sector that reach the ‘bottom of the pyramid’.

PHN has developed synergies between the needs of the health system and the capabilities of the private sector: and as a result, serves a multi-layered constituency including the private sector in its multiple dimensions (e.g. private providers, corporate businesses), policymakers, NGOs, implementers, traditional institutions, State and Local government institutions, regulators and beneficiaries, particularly impacting women and children.

Various partnerships led by the Alliance to improve health outcomes in Nigeria include Africa Resource Centre for Supply Chain in Nigeria (ARC Nigeria); Nigeria Healthcare Quality Initiative (NHQI); Nigerian Coalition to improve RMNCH in Nigeria (NICIR), and many more initiatives.

Through ARC Nigeria, the Alliance has raised the performance of supply chains to increase the availability of medicines as well as health commodities at the last mile – through capacity enhancements of public health logisticians and supply chain process improvements.

She is supporting active development of talent pools that are adequately trained to manage and operate public and private health supply chain and logistics systems in Nigeria. The ARC Nigeria is also  also fostering partnerships with universities including University of Lagos, Lagos State University, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka; University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with the aim of increasing the number of adequately trained professionals with practical skills ready to make impact in public health and private sector supply chain systems.

The NICIR initiative spurred private sector integration, innovation & investment in support of Nigeria’s health priorities & translate global strategies into local action to end maternal deaths as outlined in the Nigeria Global Financing Facility (GFF) investment case.

Through a consultative, participatory process, the partnership co-developed a coherent country-owned cross-sectoral intervention package that developed synergies between the needs of the health system and capabilities of the private sector in Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent Health and Nutrition (RMNCAH+N)

The Aliko Dangote Integrated Nutrition program, which is a collaboration between Aliko Dangote Foundation and PHN, seeks to reduce the prevalence of undernutrition in northern Nigeria by 60 per cent by 2025 by breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and malnutrition through a combination of nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive intervention.

The initiative, which is a 5-year programme seeks to

  • Treat at least 1 million children with severe acute malnutrition using the CMAM approach by 2025.
  • Reach at least 1 million vulnerable households from communities that contribute the most to SAM burden with increased self-reliance through livelihood support.
  • Reach at least 1 million vulnerable households from communities that contribute the most to Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) burden with engendered optimal nutrition, hygiene, care seeking behaviour.
  • Improve Federal, State and Local Government capacity to deliver nutrition interventions through advocacy and coordination.

Mindful of the challenges that lie ahead, PHN is excited about the role of the private sector in accelerating progress towards achieving the health-related SDGs through public-private partnerships. 


Together, we can build a coalition committed to a more structured Public-Private engagement that enables Nigeria to advance its progress in meeting its health goals.

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