Women for Health, Nigeria

Women for Health (W4H) is a five year programme that aims to address the acute shortage of female health workers in five states in northern Nigeria.

W4H will address the critical health sector human resource challenges by using an approach which empowers women as service providers.

Collaborating with state ministry of health and health training institutions in Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Yobe and Zamfara states, W4H aims to:

  • increase the production of female health workers
  • improve the quality of female health worker training
  • strengthen recruitment and retention of female health workers in rural health facilities
  • research the need for a new cadre of health worker to support evidence-based advocacy for policy development
  • engage with community and religious institutions to create a gender friendly environment for women to pursue health related career

The £26.8 million programme is one of a series of activities funded by UKaid from the Department for International Development in support of MDG 4 (the reduction of child mortality) and MDG 5 (the reduction of maternal mortality) in these states and will ultimately determine the impact of female health workers on women and children’s access to health services.

W4H works closely with other existing health and education programmes in the states, government partners including Nursing and Midwifery and Community Health regulatory bodies, NPHCDA, State and LGA partners.

A national team, led by Dr Fatima Adamu, provide technical support to state-level teams, backed by a senior technical advisory group.

The programme is managed by Health Partners International, Save the Children and GRID Consulting Ltd. and implemented in partnership with Clinton Health Access Initiative, Mailman School of Public Health, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, Columbia University, Royal College of Midwives, Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, Bayero University Kano, and Advocacy Nigeria.

High-line achievements so far include:

  • Increased number of students in training by supporting health training institutions to gain, regain, maintain, and increase accreditation
  • Strengthened management systems and structures of the training institutions to provide an appropriate environment for high quality professional training
  • Improved female-friendliness of health training institutions by increasing gender sensitivity of staff; constructing female-friendly accommodation, improving security, providing counseling, child care facilities, and increasing the proportion of female tutors and managers in the This
  • Establishing a Foundation Year Programme in each W4H state to recruit and build the academic, personal, and social capital of young women from rural areas so that they can gain access to professional training programmes, return to work in their home environment, act as role models in their home communities
  • Engaging with key decision makers and opinion leaders to build support for, and address barriers to, the education of women. This includes advocating to and supporting state governments to deliver their responsibilities to the health training institutions.
  • Improving the personal, social, and economic empowerment of rural women so they have improved status within their communities
  • As of December 2016, 4,609 female students are or have been enrolled into professional training, 1276 female students attended a Foundation Year Programme, 35 houses were constructed to accommodate midwives, 7 out of 70 institutions now have a female principal, 13 HTIs have established creches, and 95% of students on the Foundation Year programme feel they have greater hope for the future.

For more information:

Receive regular updates on programme activities by liking the Women 4 Health Facebook page and following us on Twitter @W4HNigeria

Watch Seeds of Change a three part film highlighting the key approaches and impacts of W4H. The first part, Sowing the Seeds, outlines the context in which gender relationships are being transformed in areas affected by the humanitarian crises. The second part, Addressing the shortage of female health workers, summarises the key approaches used to achieve results. The third part, Scaling up Success, touches on some of the wider impacts of the Programme and what is needed to scale up the approaches to other parts of Northern Nigeria.


Watch – Living the dream to become a midwife and explore the impact of W4H on the lives of young rural women in Northern Nigeria.