Budget 2019: Buhari proposes N315 billion recurrent health expenditure

A hospital used to illustrate the story
A hospital used to illustrate the story

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, has proposed a recurrent expenditure of N 315.62 billion for the ministry of health in its 2019 appropriation bill summited to the National Assembly on Wednesday.

This is about 46.3 billion increase from last year’s recurrent expenditure, which was N269.3 billion.

Mr Buhari, while reading his budget presentation at the joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja, said the allocation to the ministry represents significant increase over votes in previous budgets.

He said this underscores the federal government’s commitment to increase investment in national security and human capital development.

The president explained that there is a focus on health because it is an important aspiration for human capital development.

He said the government will also continue to strive to make Nigerians healthy and happy.

“In addition to building world class treatment centres, including for cancer, we will be establishing a health system that prioritises primary health care so that millions of our people can be insured for a minimum package of services with the poorest exempt from co-payments.

“In so doing, we will reduce the stress, strains and costs that the Nigerian people face in accessing decent health care,” he added.

Mr Buhari also had included in the 2019 fiscal year the 1 per cent Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) earmarked for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

This amounts to N51.22 billion from the nation’s CRF. This is however, lower than what was obtainable in 2018. The BHCPF in the 2018 appropriate bill was N55 billion.

“Furthermore, 1 per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund amounting to N51.22 billion has been earmarked for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, and other related commitments,” Mr Buhari had explained.

Nigerians are still awaiting the release of N55 billion in the 2018 budget.

Till date, the BHCPF for the ongoing year is yet to be released, though framework and mechanisms for the disbursement and implementation of the funds are already in place.

Civil society organisations in the health sector have decried the late release or non-release of funding for most health interventions in the country.

Most times, increased funding does not necessarily translate to efficient service delivery. The performance of the 2019 budget will largely be dependent on how much is released and how timely these releases are made.

Speaking on the non-release of the BHCPF fund, Emmanuel Abanida, a health expert, had earlier called on the government to speedily release, at least part of the fund, before the end of the 2018 fiscal year.

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