The Nigerian Medical Association has hailed the inclusion of one per cent of the consolidate revenue fund in the allocation to the health sector in the 2018 budget as ‘monumental’.
The Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the budget after increasing it from N8.6 trillion to N9.1 trillion, six months after it was presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The lawmakers earmarked N57. 15 billion for the basic health care provision fund as mandated by the National Health Act, a law passed in 2014 but which has not been fully implemented.
“For the first time the Senate has put the Consolidated Health Care Fund on the budget. That one percent will go into revamping the Primary Health Care system and the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS”, the newly elected president of the association, Francis Faduyile, said in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES.
“This is monumental. It is one of the greatest things that can happen in Nigeria. We believe this will change the trajectory of the country’s health system,” he enthused.
Mr Faduyile noted that the fund will help reduce out-of-pocket spending by Nigerians for their health care.
“It will further change the status of the National Health Act, a law signed into law in 2014 and came into effect in 2016 after 10 years of consideration.”
The NMA had over the years protested the non-implementation of the National Health Act.
They threatened the federal government with a lawsuit as well as embarked on a bi-weekly protest march to urge the lawmakers to include the Basic Health Care Fund in the budget.
The NMA president, in the interview, appealed to President Buhari to ‘quickly’ assent to the budget.
“We want to plead with the president to quickly give assent to this budget and ensure it is is well spent,” he said.