The Canadian government has earmarked $3.5 billion to advance the health of women and children in Nigeria, Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Christopher Thorney has said.

Mr Thorney made this known during the Multi-Country Dissemination of the Rapid Access Expansion (RAcE) Project on Integrated Community Case Management of Childhood Illnesses (iCCM) in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said that Canada has a long-standing history of working to advance the health of women and children in Nigeria, including polio eradication efforts and other health initiatives.

He noted that Canada’s latest initiative will span a 2015-2020 template and targets related programs during the five years.

Mr Thorney, who commended the remarkable progress made so far in reducing child mortality, said that significant work remains to be done.

“Troubling statistics are there, in 2016, about 5.6 million children under the age of five died worldwide; to make that more understandable, that is about 15,000 child deaths per day.

“We also understand that for three-quarters of under-five mortality, we are also dealing with a handful of leading causes such as diarrhoea, malaria, and pneumonia.

“All of these can be prevented or treated with access to simple and affordable interventions when they are available and certainly they are not always available”, he said.

He noted that most of the effective interventions for these diseases are known, simple and affordable, but they are often inaccessible for the families who cannot reach health facilities in time especially within the crucial 24 hours. He said unless the barriers are tackled, the nation stood the risk of losing the momentum it had gained.

In his remarks, World Health Organisation Country Representative, Nigeria, Wondi Alemu, said WHO was very proud of “the great work that had been done in Nigeria, Niger, DRC, Mozambique, Malawi on the iCCM.”

“As for Nigeria, I see for myself that iCCM is a successful program, I say a programme because it is a project that will last after this financing from the government of Canada.

“I believe that this will be taken up by government and states ministries of health as well to make sure that the strategy is replicated in other states”, he said.

He added that focus of iCCM was a reduction of the burden of deaths of under-fives from malaria, diarrhoea, and pneumonia in “underserved, hard to reach areas using Community Oriented Resource Persons (CORPs).”

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