Sixty years ago, my country had hospitals that were world-class.
However, Nigeria’s health system today is a shadow of its former self.
This is a big problem, as Nigeria is home to over 200 million people – all of whom deserve to have good health.
Currently, healthcare in Nigeria is poorly funded: many hospitals lack equipment and clean water, doctors are leaving the country in droves, and medical care is expensive and inaccessible.
The government needs to make health a priority; and I am advocating for proper funding for primary healthcare and health insurance for all Nigerians.
This is why I’m taking part in the Youth Power Hacks.
In addition to big picture improvements to healthcare in Nigeria, it’s important to note that major health benefits can also be reaped through change on a local scale.
One of the simplest ways to enhance the health and hygiene of populations is through clean water.
Access to clean water hits home because I have experienced first-hand the challenges linked to this.
Growing up in an urban slum in Lagos, we consistently had struggles with our water and power supply, sometimes being without clean water and electricity for weeks. Many times, I had to walk long distances to fetch water from wealthy neighbours who had generators to pump water from their wells. Compared to many rural communities without water, I was still fortunate to have some access.
Even when my parents enrolled me into a mixed boarding school in 1994 in Abuja – things didn’t improve. There was no water supply system during my first three years, so the other students and I had to trek long distances into the bushes to fetch water from a little pond that had groundwater. It wasn’t long before we experienced a nasty outbreak of scabies, which I contracted.
The girls at my school had even more health and hygiene challenges due to a lack of clean water – coping with the double whammy of potential infections and difficult menstrual hygiene management.
This is part of the reason why my group’s idea for the Youth Power Hacks focuses specifically on access to clean water for girls in schools. In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that handwashing is our first line of defence – but this can only be effective when clean water is available. In addition, the availability of handwashing stations with soap and water at schools helps girls manage their menstruation hygienically; and has been shown to reduce school absenteeism by 50%, which in turn increases girls’ academic performance and future earning potential.
I am very passionate about the girl child because her development translates into the development of communities, nations, and our world at large – and I look forward to making my Nigeria Hack group’s innovation count for the Global Goals.
Over the past few months, the Youth Power Panel has been working with Restless Development, Project Everyone, and Unilever to deliver the Youth Power Hacks: six online hackathons held in six countries, bringing together hundreds of young people to hack solutions to help get the Global Goals delivered.