FG Stresses Significance Of Social Norms, Behaviour Change For Nat’l Health

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Dr. Muhammad Pate.
Prof. Muhammad Pate.

The Federal Government has underscored the essential role of transforming social norms and behaviour change in upholding the nation’s health.

Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate made this assertion at the Breakthrough ACTION Nigeria Learning and Transition event themed “Celebrating Achievements, Strengthening Learning and Transitioning for Sustainability”.

According to Science Nigeria, Breakthrough Action has served as the USAID’s primary Social and Behaviour Change Project globally for the past 7 years.

In Nigeria, the project has focused on enhancing the adoption of critical health behaviours in various program areas such as maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH), family planning (FP), nutrition, malaria, tuberculosis, COVID-19 and priority zoonotic diseases (PZDs).

Pate, represented by director of family health at FMOH, Dr. Binyerem Ukaire commended the innovative contributions of Breakthrough Action Nigeria (BA-N) in health communication and social behaviour change.

The minister highlighted that BA-N’s endeavours have successfully reached millions of Nigerians, promoting healthier practices and equipping communities with crucial health knowledge.

“Promoting the right healthy behaviour through social and behavior change is crucial in accomplishing our health objectives and milestones.

“This emphasis on behaviour change holds particular importance for the Federal Ministry of Health and the Department of Family Health,” he remarked.

He lauded BA-N’s impact in various areas such as disease prevention, reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health and nutrition.

“By advocating for healthier lifestyles, BA-N’s initiatives have made remarkable progress in enhancing health outcomes,” he stated.

He reiterated the Ministry of Health’s unwavering commitment to improving the health of every Nigerian, emphasising the effectiveness of collaborative endeavors with BA-N in realising national health targets.

He recognized the significance of the event as not just a celebration of achievements but also a platform for contemplating future strategies.

“The shared insights and learnings will play a pivotal role in shaping more efficient and sustainable health interventions going forward,” he added.

He expressed genuine gratitude to BA-N, partners, stakeholders, and frontline health workers for their dedication and hard work.

“Your contributions are priceless and deeply valued,” he conveyed, extending best wishes for a productive and enlightening event.

He expressed optimism that the National Learning and Transition Event would spur continued innovation, collaboration, and advancement in the pursuit of better health outcomes for all Nigerians.

Notably, the enhancement of Health indices in Nigeria through Breakthrough Action Nigeria’s Learning and Transition has been influenced by various factors.

The public health approach to social and behaviour change involves understanding individual and community beliefs and behaviours and then designing innovative strategies to promote healthier behaviors and enhance access to essential health services.

Since its inception in Nigeria, the project has adopted a comprehensive approach, including mass media, community outreach and user-focused social media campaigns, to foster enduring change.

These initiatives have yielded positive outcomes across several health domains such as reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, nutrition, malaria, tuberculosis and COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

Among numerous revelations, Breakthrough Action observed a significant increase in the adoption of multiple preventive behaviors among women who engaged in community activities compared to those who did not participate.

These behaviours include attending at least four antenatal visits during pregnancy, delivering in a health facility, practicing exclusive breastfeeding, consuming a diverse diet and receiving preventive malaria medication at least thrice during pregnancy.

Racheal Abujah
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