Nigeria’s Health Workforce: Aso!

Amanda PuckettDriving around Abuja, Nigeria you cannot miss the Aso Rock, a large 400-meter monolith overlooking the city. The name “Aso” means victorious in the native language of the Asokoro people. In September I traveled to Abuja to provide management and operations support for our newly opened CapacityPlus office. I couldn’t help but think that the most prominent natural feature in the city, named after success, was a good sign for our human resources for health (HRH) activities in the country. 

The office supports CapacityPlus’s growing health systems strengthening portfolio in Nigeria, with a focus on PEPFAR-funded preservice education and in-service training, scaling up human resources information systems at the national and state level, and supporting the Federal Ministry of Health on key HRH leadership, partnership, and management activities. 

Before my trip, CapacityPlus was already active in Nigeria. In recent months, the project advanced iHRIS Qualify at the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, expanded the system to the Medical Laboratory and Sciences Council of Nigeria, and launched a large in-service training assessment of PEPFAR implementing partners. CapacityPlus also collaborated with the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, government agencies, UNICEF, and implementing partners on approaches to strengthen the social welfare workforce needed for the care of orphans and vulnerable children.

Amandas Nigeria blog post

The Aso Rock overlooks the city of Abuja. “Aso” means victorious in the native language of the Asokoro people.

Click for a slideshow with captions.

Having spent 10 days in Abuja, our efforts to ramp up in-country operations and support a growing HRH portfolio in Nigeria are paying off. We are fortunate to have highly energetic staff on the ground who are committed to supporting our HRH activities at the state and federal level.

In addition to working with our new staff, I was able to visit many of our local partners and stakeholders. For instance, the data entry clerks supporting iHRIS at the Nursing and Midwifery Council were very spirited and take their job of ensuring accurate information very seriously. I found the same energy with Shiono A. Bennibor, the registrar/CEO at the Community Health Practitioners Board, who explained the efforts the board is undertaking to ensure schools have the capacity to train the number of students admitted for community health worker and junior health extension worker programs. The board is also supporting a large reaccreditation process for the training schools to ensure the training programs are up to national standards. 

My visit coincided with the beginning of a preservice education assessment of health and midwifery schools as well as health training institutes in five states. The rapid assessment will result in recommendations to increase graduate output and pass rates, therefore increasing the number of new health workers and accelerating Nigeria’s contribution toward meeting PEPFAR’s new health worker targets. I helped the study team prepare for travel to some of the remote corners of Cross Rivers State as well as schools and training institutions in Benue and Lagos. Despite flight delays and floods, the enthusiastic team was not deterred from ensuring a thorough assessment.

The energy surrounding my visit to Abuja was indeed palpable and I am encouraged that, like that large rock towering over the city, CapacityPlus is poised to be victorious in making relevant and sustainable HRH and health systems strengthening contributions in Nigeria.

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Photo of Amanda Puckett by Jennifer Solomon. Slideshow photos by Amanda Puckett.