Seeking to create an enabling environment for social innovation through increasing evidence and its uptake as well as fostering collaboration across all stakeholders while encouraging a culture of Nigerians solving their health challenges using the Nigerian formula, formed the fulcrum of conversations at the unveiling of top social innovation in Abuja on Monday.
Performing the unveiling ceremony, the minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu expressed delight at the development and promised that the ministry will provide the needed support and collaboration to enable the initiative to be successful.
The event was put together by Social Innovation in Health (SIHI), Nigeria hub, a branch of the SIHI global network, a World Health Organization (WHO)project with multiple international partners domiciled in the Nnamdi Azikiwe University.
Dr Onu stressed that the innovation offers a beacon of light as it showcases the potentials of the country to discover innovative ways of solving societal problems, especially in the health sector. He assured that the ministry under his watch, is committed to work for the success of any effort that will make the nation”s economy knowledge based and innovative driven, adding ”we will continue to support you as you encourage creativity and innovation among our people”.
He expressed delight that Nigeria is one of the few African countries to hostage SIHI hub.
He further stated that ” the top three social innovations in health that have emerged from the various selection stages put in place by SIHI Nigeria in collaboration with the FMSTI are remarkable because they are all home-grown solutions. When further developed, this could contribute immensely to improved health care delivery in the country as well as export to the rest of the world.
He paid tribute to the ingenuity, creativity, inventiveness and resourcefulness of Nigeria saying ”We have shown that we have the capacity to find solutions to many of our problems. We can no longer allow people in other countries to provide solutions to our problems. We have all that it takes to have home-grown solutions for our problems.
The time has come for us to start producing locally, many of the things that we import into the country, declaring ” we have the men, we have the women and we have the materials to get it done. This is the best way to build a self-reliant and great nation that can create enough job for the citizens, fight and defeat poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy as well as create wealth for both the people and the nation. This is exactly what SIHI Nigeria hub at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and all the outstanding innovators here want to achieve,” the minister concludes.
The unveiling ceremony featured presentation of goodwill messages from stakeholders. Senator Uche Ekwunife who is the senate committee chairman on Science, Technology and Innovation commended the initiative and charged the team to make it work.
She advised the government and stakeholders in the health sector to make primary health care a priority and ensure that health care cents are workable even as she noted that the essence of governance is for Nigerians to gain from government programs and innovations.
Others who presented goodwill messages include, the Director-General, NIPRD, Dr Obi Adigwe, Vice Chancellor, Nile University, president, Nigeria Academy of Science, Prof Eka Braide among others. Earlier in his address of welcome, the vice chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University,Prof Charles Esimone welcomed participants to the unveiling ceremony and expressed hope that it will achieve it set objectives.
It will be recalled that in April 2020, WHO awarded a grant to Nnamdi Azikiwe University and School of Public Health, University of Ghana (both new generation hubs) to collaborate with Makarere University (a first generation hub) to disseminate social innovation in health in Africa, to crowdsource for social innovation in health in the university and across the whole country.
To achieve this, the team is partnering with the ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and with other key health actors and innovators, non governmental organizations, public and private sectors in Nigeria through out the process of identifying and promoting social innovations in health.