Fayohi in Nigeria – reducing preventable diseases and deaths

by Denise Nanni and Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. In the following our interview with Ahmed of the organisation Fayohi in Nigeria. The Family and Youth Health Initiative (FAYOHI) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization established by Ahmed M. Sarki in April 2012 to become part of the campaign for reducing preventable diseases and deaths in Nigeria, especially in areas that have not been impacted by on-going health programs in the country. 
FAYOHI’s programs revolve around communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs); neglected tropical diseases (NTDs); and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 and 6. Since its inception FAYOHI has benefited from strong collaborations with ministries at state and federal level within Nigeria as well as international collaborations with NGOs in Cameroon and Uganda. FAYOHI is currently working on one of the biggest schools health promotion projects in Nigeria targeting 115 secondary schools and reaching 45300 adolescents in Jigawa state.


What are the main causes that can prevent the access to health care in Nigeria?
There are several factors that prevent access to health care in Nigeria. Some of the key factors however include: 
Inadequate healthcare facilities: Nigeria has one of the highest annual population growths  in Africa and this puts strains in the existing health facilities that have been struggling with demand for decades. 
Inadequate skilled personnel and under-equipped facilities: In many remote areas where majority of Nigerians live, you find health facilities that are inadequately staffed or you find instances where the staff are not adequately qualified to deal with the complex health issues presented by the resident populations. For instance, as part of our work in FAYOHI we conduct needs assessments on remote communities and there was an instance we came across a community where delivery is received by hand-held torchlight and grossly under-qualified health personnel. There were other instances where Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs) lacked basic provision of water for their day-to-day use. Not to mention lack of basic and necessary equipment such as oxygen cylinders in many emergency rooms. Under-equipment of facilities in particular has undermined patients and public confidence in Nigeria’s healthcare system.
Means of accessing healthcare: By this I mean transportation and road networks linking communities to healthcare centers. Although there are noticeable improvements in this area, more still needs to be done by the government towards connecting communities with their nearest health facilities.
Poverty: Increasing levels of poverty are also a major barrier that prevents access to healthcare in Nigeria. Although healthcare at the basic level is free, individuals still have to pay out of pocket for treatments and medication, thereby paving way for health inequalities to thrive such that individuals at the high-end of the socioeconomic gradients could afford better healthcare whereas people that are within lower socioeconomic class cannot afford to pay for life-threatening conditions such as ‘obstructed labour’ and cancers.

How do you identify the communities where you intervene?

We conduct needs assessment but because our priorities are geared towards working with under-served populations living in hard-to-reach areas in the state we work is stratified into 5 emirates, it is a bit easy for us to identify a community we would work.

Do you offer trainings on health issues to the local communities?

We offer training only to the volunteers we work with in each community (because we work with the locals to foster trust between our organisation and the communities). However, we do run awareness campaigns through Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials and radio interviews.

What are the initiatives that you address to women and girls?

We have a strong focus on women health. We design projects that include the female gender in all age-categories particularly in maternal, reproductive, and sexual health. For instance, one of our up-coming projects is ‘Schools Health Promotion Project’ where we would be collaborating with Jigawa state Ministry of Education to promote health and wellbeing across 115 secondary schools covering 45,300 pupils aged 14-17 years. There is a module developed specifically for women with the aim of educating them early-on before they go into marriage.

Do you cooperate with local authorities and institutions? If yes, how?

We definitely collaborate with local authorities and traditional institutions by designing projects that have direct impacts on the lives of their respective populations. We pay advocacy visits and hold stakeholder engagement meetings to rub-minds and exchange ideas on our projects.