Women for Health, Nigeria

Women for Health (W4H) aims to address the acute shortage of female health workers in six states in northern Nigeria.

Since November 2012, W4H has increased the number and capacity of female health workers in Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Zamfara and Yobe, while at the same time contributed to women’s empowerment and gender equality in communities and institutions in the North.

This responds to a severe shortage of female health workers in a region where there are social and cultural barriers to women being seen by male health workers.

It is expected that the increased numbers of female health workers will lead to an improvement in women’s access to and use of health services in Northern Nigeria and improve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

During the first five years of implementation W4H achieved a wide range of successes across several areas:

  • increasing the physical, management and teaching capacity of 20 health training institutions;
  • improving quality of teaching and supporting health training institutions to transition to a student-centred learning approach;
  • introduction of a Foundation Year Programme (FYP) for rural women to improve their academic credentials, study skills and confidence to enter health worker training;
  • community engagement in 912 underserved communities to promote positive attitudes towards and community sponsorship of women attending tertiary education and becoming health workers; and
  • engagement with government to ensure commitment, legislation and budgeted funding to sustain health training institutions and Foundation Year Programme activities into the future.
  • In the extension phase between April 2018 and October 2020, W4H will evolve to adapt to the emerging context and new challenges in the North, including expanding into Borno State.

It will focus on a “building back better” approach in the conflict and humanitarian areas in Yobe and Borno states, and will ensure sustainability of the progress achieved over the last five years in Katsina, Kano, Jigawa and Zamfara.

The extension will also facilitate locally-led scale up of the W4H approach in additional states and institutionalisation of commitment by Federal agencies.

It is expected that the women’s empowerment aspects of the programme and the way the programme is implemented will contribute to communities’ resilience and to peace-building.

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 Women for Health programme is funded and supported by UK aid from the UK Government. The programme is led by Health Partners International, in partnership with Save the Children and DAI Nigeria.

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.