30 CSOs Write Buhari, Demand Increase in 2018 Health Budget
Thirty major Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria, known as the Health Sector Reform Coalition (HSRC), have jointly signed an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, demanding the increase in Nigeria’s 2018 health budget to a minimum of 7.5 per cent out of the total annual budget. They said this was in line with the Abuja Declaration by African Heads of States where it was agreed that each nation, including Nigeria will commit at least 15 per cent of their annual country budget for health, adding that the time to honour the agreement by President Buhari was now.
The HSRC is a non-partisan group of CSOs and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) concerned about the health sector in Nigeria.
The coalition said they have gathered signatures of over 188,000 Nigerians in advocacy efforts to increase health funding for all Nigerians, through the #MakeNaijaStronger campaign.
According to them: “After the signing of the Appropriation Act on 12th June, 2017, the Nigerian HSRC conducted an analysis of the federal government’s resource allocation to the entire health sector – including the Federal Ministry of Health. As such, it is our urgent appeal that Your Excellency increases the upcoming 2018 health budget to at least 7.5 per cent of the national budget.
“Also, we respectfully request that Your Excellency implements the one per cent Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) towards the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) as provided for in the National Health Act 2014.
“As a coalition of CSOs, we are committed to supporting the federal government by tracking the funds to the health sector to ensure that the budgeted funds provide appropriate health services to Nigerians.”
They said currently, the total amount allocated to the health sector in the 2017 approved federal government budget was estimated at N380 billion, which is 5.1 per cent of the national budget, noting that, this includes the allocation to the Federal Ministry of Health at N308 billion (4.1 per cent of the national budget) and allocations to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that are outside the FMoH such as the State House Medical Centre, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) payment for FG staff not made by the FMoH, as well as other health related allocations.
“The budget for the FMoH increased from N250 billion in 2016 to N308 billion in 2017 and we applaud this 23.2 per cent increase. It is a positive step. In turn, the entire health sector allocation increased from N353 billion in 2016 to N380 billion in 2017. This N380 billion is about 4.1 per cent of the 2017 National Budget.
“However Sir, if we consider the inflationary pressure on the economy, the purchasing power of the naira, the scale of the health needs, and the sustained growth of the Nigerian population, this increase pales in comparison to the needs of the Nigerian people,” they said.
The CSOs therefore called on the federal and state governments to invest more for and in health, stressing that health is the foundation of the nation’s security, economic growth and recovery plan.
“An investment in health not only boosts the economy, but is also a critical deter- minant of quality of the workforce. An investment of $1 in reducing stunting among children yields $11 in economic benefits, while $1 invested in ensuring breastfeeding yields $35 in economic benefits. In addition, when countries invest $1 in immunisations they stand to gain between $16 to $44 in economic returns. Right now, millions of Nigerians die needlessly because of the fragile state of healthcare in Nigeria.”
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Nigeria’s basic immunisation coverage is the eight worst in the world, with more mothers dying of largely preventable deaths in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world – six mothers die every hour.
The group explained that if Nigeria’s population is taken into account, it means the country has the fourth highest maternal mortality ratio in the world – behind Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Chad, adding that the giant of Africa is failing her people.
With 70 per cent of the disease burden at the primary care level, it is unfortunate that the primary healthcare system is the least funded. “Given the imminent exiting (re-prioritisation and re-allocation) of funding support from international partners, we must plan to take full responsibility for the health of Nigerians.
“The coalition will remain vigilant for the transparent and proper implementation of the funds towards healthcare provision in Nigeria. We pledge to track funds to ensure transparent implementation as part of our social contract to make Nigeria a great and healthy nation.”
Members of the coalition who signed the open letter are, Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON); Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP); Business Day; Catholic Secretariat; Centre for Social Justice (CSJ); Champion for Change (C4C); Christian Aid Nigeria; Civil Society – Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN);Civil Society Consultative Group for Health Financing in Nigeria (CCG4HF); and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC).
Others are Community Health and Research Initiative (CHR); Education as a Vaccine (EVA); Federation of Muslim Women of Nigeria (FOMWAN); Health Systems Consult Limited (HSCL); Innovation and Access to Development Initiatives (i-Novate 2100); International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA Nigeria); IPAS Nigeria; MamaYe -Evidence4Action; Nigeria Medical Association (NMA); and Nigeria Urban Reproductive Initiative (NURHI).
The rests are Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN); Save the Children; Synergy PMP; The Guardian; The Nigeria Health Watch; Vaccine Network for Disease Control; Wellbeing Foundation of Africa; West African Academy of Public Health (WAAPH); White Ribbon Alliance (WRAN); and Women Advocate and Vaccine Access (WAVA).