This presentation was delivered as part of a Women for Health (W4H) programme team panel at Accountability NOW: A national summit to Advance Newborn and Maternal Health in Nigeria held in Abuja on 16 – 18 February 2016.
This presentation highlights how many rural northern Nigerian women and girls are unable to access health training, as they do not have the secondary school qualifications required for entry to further education. This lack of students from rural locations has been identified as a major factor responsible for understaffing of rural health facilities, as qualified students from urban areas often refuse deployment to rural areas.
In order to increase access to health training education for rural women and girls, the W4H programme established a Foundation Year Programme (FYP). The FYP provides rigorous support to students to achieve prescribed entry requirements into HTIs. It has two pathways, the Bridging pathway for young women who lack qualifications to enter HTIs, and the Preparatory pathway which gives support to students with prescribed entry requirements but who would benefit from further support in order to pass the HTI entrance examination.
The recruitment of FYP students was community-led which generated high level community acceptance, commitment and ownership.
The current severe shortage of health-workers in rural northern Nigeria has called for an innovative approach to rapidly and effectively increase the number of health-workers who are able to work in rural areas. The W4H FYP recruited 679 rural girls and women who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to go back into education and has given them a “second chance”. W4H is offering support and the opportunity to further their education, improve their lives and fulfil a life-long career in health, which will in turn help them to contribute to their communities and improve the health status of women and children