30 CSOs Write Buhari, De­mand In­crease in 2018 Health Bud­get

THISDAY - - NEWS - Martins Ifi­jeh

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).

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