Jul 19, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Nigeria’s Sokoto State recently announced his administration’s plans to send 200 students -- primarily girls -- abroad for medical studies, according to a report from Vanguard. Here’s a closer look at the news, along with other initiatives underway in Sokoto aimed at improving life for its citizens.

Toward Equality in Medicine

The program’s objective, according to Tambuwal? “To shore up the number of women medical doctors in the state, hence, encourage more women to seek medical services in the hospitals.”

Currently,  discussions are underway to send 100 students, the majority of whom are women, to a university in India. “We are also discussing with other universities across the world, with a view to send another batch of one hundred youths to study various medical professional fields like pharmacy, dentistry, radiography and medical laboratory science, among others,” continued Tambuwal.

This is also consistent with the perspective voiced by Obiageli Ezekwesili, Vice President of Africa at The World Bank Group, in her article, “Africa: Empower Women to Realize the African Dream.”  Ezekwesili’s assertion? “The road to achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa can be built only on a gender-inclusive agenda, unleashing the productive power of women. That agenda should advance women’s education and access to information, protect women’s rights, improve women’s access to agricultural inputs and security over their land, promote female entrepreneurship, and increase the participation of women in government and public life.”

Toward Better Healthcare for All

Made coinciding with the country’s commemoration of Democracy Day, Tambuwal’s announcement also highlighted the government’s ambitious goal in the state’s climate of dwindling resources: Better healthcare for citizens.

Other initiatives in this sector aligned with this goal? The establishment of a malaria control agency to help tame the deadly disease. Additionally, Sokoto has also created a contributory health agency focused on improving the affordability of healthcare services.

Tambuwal announced, “The state government has since provided N100 million as take-off grant to the agency, while the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has also paid N1 million to it.” Furthermore, he added, “Communities across the state are also being sensitized to key into the scheme, with a view to ensuring statewide coverage.”

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Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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