Journalists should make state governments accountable for healthcare delivery in Nigeria – Minister

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has urged the media to interrogate state governments more on their practical commitment to health care delivery in the country.

Mr. Adewole made this call on Tuesday in Abuja at a health financing policy dialogue organised by THISDAY Newspaper.

The summit was held under the theme: “Moving Nigeria towards Universal Health Coverage through Appropriate Financing.”

Speaking at the event, the minister said the media need to investigate state governments’ health budgets and how they are utilised.

He said such investigations would make the governments accountable and more committed to their responsibilities to the citizens in the sector.

“There is a need for states to budget more to their health sector. It is sad that states have not employed doctors and nurses and some are not even paying their staff salaries.

“A consultant at a state hospital earns equivalent to a junior doctor working in the federal establishment,” Mr. Adewole said.

He lamented that the bulk of Nigeria’s financial health burden continues to be borne by the federal government and international donor partners.

He noted that most state governments are not even meeting their quota of counterpart funds to combat diseases and immunisation programmes in their domains.

Mr. Adewole last month at an emergency meeting of the National Council on Health blamed some state governments for poor preparation and tardiness for the current spread of Lassa fever and other health challenges in the country.

The minister said it is pathetic that 10 states did not allocate fund to the fight against HIV/AIDS programme, as 99 per cent of the money used in the fight in Nigeria is from the U.S. and international donors.

“Health security of a state is meant to be part of the state government’s responsibility and not the federal government bearing it all. Some states still wait for the federal government before making crucial health interventions, even in times of disease outbreaks. States governors need to start taking substantive stands instead of waiting for the federal government,” he said.

The minister said the burden of health financing in the nation should be borne by both state and local governments as they are the first point of official responsibility for the welfare of citizens.

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