Concerned about the poor funding of the health sector, the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health at Scale, PACFaH, is organising a press conference with theme: ‘The falling 2018 health sector allocation as a threat to government’s health care under one Roof Policy.’
PACFaH is advocating adequate funding and the full implementation of government’s commitment to child and family health.
President Muhammadu Buhari allocated N340.45 billion to the health sector in the proposed 2018 budget. This represents 3.9 per cent of the total N8.6 trillion budget.
If the appropriation bill is passed as it is, it would imply a three-year consecutive decline in the allocation to health sector
Allocation to the health sector in 2017 and 2016 are 4.16 percent and 4.23 percent respectively.
Follow our live updates of the event here.
The press conference begins at 11:45 a.m.
It has the theme “Understanding the falling 2018 Health budget”, and is organised by the National Association of Community Health Practitioners of Nigeria, in conjunction with dRpc and PACFaH.
The moderator, Aremu Fatai, who is the acting country director of PACFAH@ Scale, said the conference came because of the shortfall in the budgetary allocation to the health sector.
He said it was time to advocate for proper funding and timely release of funds to the health sector.
Ibama Asiton, acting General-Secretary NACHPN, says the association is clamouring for a raise in the health budget allocated to Nigeria.
While decrying the gradual shortfalls, he said the NACHPN, comprising of Community Health Officers, CHOs, Community Health Extentions workers, CHEWs and Junior Community Health Extension Workers, JCHEWs, are the front line primary health care professionals in partnership.
Asiton says making adequate budgetary provisions for health in the budget and by implementing it in full is important.
The 2018 Annual Budget proposal is called a budget of consolidation, if the government is committed to consolidation in the health care system, then the Community Health Influencer, Promoter and Services CHIPS are consolidators of the health sector.
While Nigeria’s overall budget has grown by 92 percent from N4.49 trillion in 2015 to N8.61 trillion in 2018, the same cannot be said of the health budget.
The health budget has instead fallen by 14 per cent.
The acting general secretary says the 2018 health to national budget of meagre 3.9 percent is the lowest in recent years.
Using a graphic illustration, he demonstrates that in 2015, 5.7 per cent of the total national budget was allocated to health, while 3.9 per cent was allocated in 2018.
Asiton tasks everyone to ask themselves key questions about the 2018 health budget. Will it provide enough resources to consolidate the work of primary health care providers working within the policy of the primary health care under one roof
With this budget, will the federal Ministry of Health keep its promise of revitalising 10,000 primary health care centre?
He said is more like the health sector is a “runner up” in this budget.
The national president of NACHPN, Akor Okechukwu, says it is time to advocate for increase in funding and ask for proper implementation of the government policies on health because the World Economic Forum in 2017/2018 competitive index report rates Nigeria’s health system as 136th out of 137 countries in the world.
He said this is certainly not the rightful place for Nigeria to be in the community of nations.
“We therefore call on the National Assembly and all relevant stakeholders to do the needful by improving funding for Nigeria’s health system beginning from the 2018 Appropriation Bill,” he says.
“We are making this call to action as we all advocate for improved and adequate funding for Nigeria’s health sector and to ensure that Nigerian government honours its policy commitments to the health sector in general and child and family health.”
During question and answer, someone asks about the level at which CSOs monitored the implementation of the budget. The national vice president, Northeast, Yakubu Zaakshi, says they have been monitoring the implementation of the budget by the ministry of health and could attest that there was a fair implementation.
He said more needs to be done however. “Though we were engaged in discussion with the ministry before the proposed budget was drafted, we were however surprised with the amount allocated to the health sector despite our engagement with the government,” he said. “We know there is still room or amendment as it is still with the National Assembly before it is passed. That is why we are pleading that they should improve on the allocation so that they can effect the desired change in the health sector. ”
The former National President of the association, Musbau Tadese, says more funds need to be voted to realising an efficient primary health care delivery system because 70 per cent of Nigerians live in the rural area.
To know the true state of the primary healthcare system, people need to visit them. This is the only way to understand the implication of not voting enough money to the sector, he says.
“We work in the rural area and we know some of the challenges we face when dispensing our duties. most of us work in under staff environment, no equipment to discharge our duties accurately and most often for mobilisation. This is why we are asking for more funds. This is the only way the impact of the primary healthcare can be felt on Nigerians and people will stop travelling out of the country for healthcare knowing we can deliver such services here n country,” he said.
The event ends with a plea by the moderator, Aremu Fatai, to the media to support NACHPN’s call in holding government accountable for adequate funding of the health sector and full implementation of key policies that will enhance child and family health in Nigeria.