#PHC4UHC: Be accountable when tracking health funds, programmes, policy experts tell CSOs

Interactive session between CSOs and NIPSS delegation in Niger state.
Interactive session between CSOs and NIPSS delegation in Niger state.

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have been charged to be accountable and transparent, through regular audit of their accounts and self-regulation, when playing advocacy roles in the health sector.

They were urged to be keen on generating data and using such to advocate to government for better accountability that will strengthen the primary health system.

This was the highpoint of the study tour of the Senior Executive Course participants of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, (NIPSS) in Niger State.

They were in the state throughout last week to study its health sector, especially the Primary Health System.

The visit is coordinated by NIPSS in collaboration with the Development Research and Project Centre (DRPC) through PACFAH@Scale.

To round off the tour, DRPC organised an interactive session between the NIPSS delegation and CSOs monitoring funding and government interventions in Niger State’s health sector.

Oladimeji Solomon, the programme officer for Sustainable Health Promotion and Development, explained how his organisation does budget tracking especially in the area of Nutrition.

He also said his organisation centred its advocacy on charging the state assembly to release funds for health promptly.

Self-regulation

Majority of the questions the NIPSS delegation asked the CSOs centred on self-regulation. They asked the CSOs to give accounts of how they fund their programmes as well as regulate and sanction erring members.

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There was a slight drama when a NIPSS delegate said CSOs present themselves as beggars by often depending on foreign grants.

The comment was countered by Stephen Adeoye, the Co-chair primary health care advocacy team (NGO).

“We leverage on our expertise that is how we partner with international CSOs. Everything is not money and there are things we decipher when we track and monitor programmes in the health system,” Mr Adeoye said.

“Please, CSOs are not beggars. We have left that level.”

Mr Adeoye also explained how CSOs in Niger regulate their activities especially with regard to public health.

“We now synergise our effort. Before, we don’t have a board but now we do. Every quarter, we come back to report to the umbrella body. We try to synergise to avoid duplications. We now have personal audits of the CSOs working in Niger.

“The CSOs report back to the health platform, every quarter you report to the umbrella body on what you are doing.”

He said the government now respects “us because they know what we are doing in terms of monitoring health delivery systems in Niger. So far, so good we did need assessment. We went to PHCs and asked them what are your challenges? Most of them said its capacity and facility.”

The NIPSS team lead, Nasirudeen Usman, urged the CSOs to maintain a transparent track record so that they can effectively monitor government activities in the public health system.

Way Forward

“The way forward is for us to put our house in order and be disciplined,” Mr Adeoye told PREMIUM TIMES after the interactive session.

“Development partners are wiser now. They tell you what they want you to do, if you do it well they will come and do screening and maybe increase your grants but if you are not able to do it, they will push you aside.

Mr Adeoye explained how CSOs in Niger sanction erring members.

“If a CSO is found wanting, we call them to the umbrella body. We don’t just sanction them, we call them to defend themselves and if they are found wanting they are suspended or blacklisted depending on the degree of the offence.”

The NIPSS delegation is currently in Lagos for a continuation of their study tour.

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