By Dr. Maimunat Ahmadu
Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, for short have been on the hearts, minds and lips of every country in the world with emphasis placed on low and middle income countries. These MDGs focus on important development issues such as maternal and child health, gender equality, education, sanitation, water and poverty alleviation. The time frame for the MDGs was set for 1990 to 2015 and the goals are meant to serve as precursors to overall development. The end of the MDGs is close indeed and it is time serious countries and global health stakeholders begin considering what comes after the MDGs?
A lot of programs and projects have been instituted across the globe but mostly in LMIC (Lower Middle Income Countries) to help achieve these development goals. With the deadline of 2015 looming, intensified efforts have been made in countries that have not achieved the goals, one of which is Nigeria. One hears of projects and programs like MDG Health alliance task force, PMTCT deep drives and the new saving one million lives initiative, where there seems to be a race against time to attain or at least get close to the set goals. There have been various approaches to these programs with some vertical and horizontal methods. Vertical approach being the development and implementation of projects and programs targeted at specific areas e.g. HIV/AIDS programs. While horizontal approaches focus on the development and implementation of projects that span various areas of interest and involve collaborations and integrations with differing stakeholders in this process.
Nigeria has participated in and implemented several international, regional and local programs in line with these MDGs and a lot of public and private institutions have absorbed these programs. A lot of infrastructure has been built on the premises of these projects and healthcare professionals have been trained alongside. These and many more are still ongoing and expected to be in place up until 2015 and beyond.
The question however: After 2015, what next? After the MDGs, what next?
One thing that is imperative for Nigeria to focus on after the MDGs is to ensure the safety and security of citizens first. It is not clear how any of the development precursors can have any long term effect in the present unsecured and terrifying state the nation is in. Lives are being wasted and properties destroyed each day across the country. In the North, we have Boko Haram terrorists. In the Southeast and South-south kidnappings and impunity seems rampant and armed robbers terrify people who live in the Southwest of the country. It is so bad in the North that healthcare workers are being targeted and killed in the line of duty, as was the case in Kano and Yobe states. Health professionals are forced to leave violence prone areas and one wonders who would be left to carry on the work; it turns out that the unstable areas are actually the areas that record the poorest MDG indices.
Coincidentally, our next general elections will be in 2015 and the stability of the country is already in question. How would any programs or projects have sustainable effects in a conflict ridden zone or nation?
I would implore the government, law enforcement agents, traditional and religious leaders, international agencies and the citizens themselves to make the peace and security of the nation their main focus. That should supersede any personal or otherwise agenda. After all, the good book says “IF A HOUSE IS DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF, THAT HOUSE CANNOT STAND”.