Over the past two years, Nigeria has shown a renewed commitment to strengthening its health services, notably under the aegis of the Saving One Million Lives (SOML) initiative. A broad-based investment program with six distinct health pillars – immunization, malaria control, nutrition, prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV, delivery of essential medicines to address common childhood illnesses, and strengthening of MCH delivery platforms – SOML has the potential to dramatically improve maternal and child health in the country.
Sustainable methods for financing program scale-up in Nigeria must be identified in order to unlock the promise of SOML. If the initiative is to accomplish its intended aim, it must have the resources to execute its programs both now and in the future.
With its strong record of health financing analysis, R4D is well-equipped to lead an evaluation of the financial sustainability of SOML. This analysis, to be carried out in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria and with the support of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), will help to stimulate discussions among Government officials and domestic and international development partners on ways to mobilize adequate funding for SOML and ensure that the money which is raised is used in an efficient manner to maximize the gains in child and maternal health.
R4D was asked by the SOML Program Delivery Unit of the Federal Ministry of Health to validate cost estimates, analyze current and potential sources of financing, build alternative scenarios for strategic planning purposes, and draft recommendations on the most promising avenues for generating additional fiscal space. R4D developed three future scenarios or forecasts, built on optimistic, pessimistic, and medium projections of donor and federal government financing.
The analysis focused on how domestic and external financing can be leveraged to expand the financial envelope for the SOML pillars. R4D also explored options for closing the gaps between the projected costs and estimated available financing for particular pillars. Building on previous fiscal space analysis work for GAVI on immunization , R4D is deepening its involvement in the health sector of Nigeria through this project.
The Saving One Million Lives initiative could lead to large health improvements in the short term, and could also catalyze larger gains by drawing attention to important under-funded areas of health, such as nutrition and essential medicines. Our analysis suggested that modest increases in federal health spending, along with some reallocation toward the highly cost-effective SOML interventions, could make a substantial contribution to meeting SOML’s resource needs. If adopted, these and other feasible options explored in our analysis can help increase the number of mothers and children’s lives saved and establish a sustainable funding architecture for the future.