Ogun State Success Story Mr Serifat Omobolanle Aminu was one of three representatives from Ogun State, Nigeria’s Ministry of Health who attended the 2012 SHN Course. Lessons taught on the value of multi-sectoral collaboration impacted on the establishment of a SHN technical working group within Ogun State Government which effectively acted as a coordinating center to strengthen SHN delivery within the State.

Working in partnership towards agreed objectives

During a partnerships session delivered on the 2012 course we learnt more about why effective partnerships between sectors are so important; we learnt how combined resources and competencies and sharing challenges and successes works well towards agreed objectives. We came to understand no single ministry can implement an SHN programme successfully - and that it doesn’t necessarily matter which ministry drives the programme but that with strong collaboration SHN programmes will be extremely effective.

After the course we knew something had to be put in place to get all the stakeholders to work in collaboration together. On our return to Ogun State the team delivered a course feedback report to Ogun State’s Commissioner for Health and the Permanent Secretary which outlined the need for the creation of ministerial linkages to strengthen the State’s school health programmes.

In November of the same year, a State Technical Working Group was inaugurated to act as school health coordinating body. This comprised 18 members drawn from ministries of health, education, agriculture, women affairs, environment in addition to the State Universal Basic Education Board and the Rural Water and Sanitation Agency. An attempt to establish this group had been carried out in the previous year but had been unsuccessful. Now as one unit, members had a clearer understanding on the concept of SHN and as a group ministries of health and education could plan and carry out activities together.

Demand for School Health Workers

Since its establishment, the Technical Working Group has improved SHN activities in a number of ways. Initially the working group increased the number of school health workers within communities, who, as qualified nurses and community extension workers could provide health related services in schools, essentially filling the gap for schools located at large distances from health facilities. These focal points had a big impact on increasing school attendance as they provided a standby health service to children in schools, helping to prevent ailments, diseases and injuries which would have previously encouraged children to stay had home.

Another key activity of the working group focused on teaching the community about the SHN programmes to encourage their support, such activities included involving students and teachers in health related competitions.

Effective Collaboration for School Based Deworming

Lessons taught on collaboration during the course significantly impacted on Ogun State’s deworming programme. When the programme had been carried out in 2010 by the Federal Ministry of Health, the programme encountered a number of challenges on defining roles and responsibilities for drug administration and distribution. But after 2011, one the working group had been established which coordinated actors across ministries the programme was significantly strengthened.

In addition to the course’s lessons on ministerial connections we came to understand the value of public-private partnerships as outlined during the course’s sessions and this influenced the involvement of the private sector who assisted with Ogun’s deworming programme and included partners such as Sanofi Pharmaceuticals and Unity Bank.