Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Lagos have explained how they monitor the activities of government, especially its spendings on public health.
In their advocacy role in the sector, the CSOs said they do self-regulation and operate in networks to ensure transparency in their activities.
They were responding to questions from some senior National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, (NIPSS) who have been in the state since Monday to study its health sector, especially the primary health system.
The meeting between both groups was organised by the Development Research and Project Centre (DRPC) through PACFAH@Scale.
The meeting started with the introduction of the representatives of the various CSOs present. They all explained their areas of advocacy and how they engage the government and the public to strengthen the health sector.
Nasirudeen Usman, the team leader of the NIPSS delegation, explained to the CSOs the aim of the local study tour.
Asked how they hold government accountable, Bola Nuga of the Access to Development Initiative said the CSOs draw policy briefs, especially scorecards.
“We draw up health budget scorecards. We look at allocations given to health as well as the releases. We put them in a chart and we use it to engage the government.
“We check if the allocations are enough for what they are targeted at and also check if the money was fully released.
“We then present the scorecard to government as a document,” he explained.
Mr Nuga, a reverend father, also said they use tools such as health tracker to monitor the programmes and activities of the government.
“If the government is building a health centre, for instance, we use the tracker to monitor if it has been completed. We then make a compilation of our tracking.”
The clergyman said they face challenges trying to hold the government to account.
“CSOs are seen as antagonists so the government shield so many things from us. The first time we demanded budget monitoring, they did not provide it.
“But now, I think they are beginning to see the relevance of our work.
“They (government) are beginning to open up gradually. Now, if they have some activities they will invite CSOs. In the past, it was not usually like that.”
They were also asked how they regulate their activities so as not to duplicate efforts, avoid wastages and ensure transparency.
Mr Nuga said CSOs build networks that oversee and check what each is doing.
“Donors now prefer to fund networks because it is difficult to track the activities of individual organisations.
“When you belong to a network, the leaders will oversee the activities of members. That is why we encourage NGOs to belong to networks so they do can be monitored.
“This will go a long way to self-regulate us and avoid duplication of efforts. We don’t have an umbrella body but we have networks such as malaria, tuberculosis HIV/AIDS networks.
Hard to Reach
Abayomi Ogundako, chairman of the Christian Health Association (CHAN), said his organisation work with the hard to reach, disadvantaged and indigent groups.
One of the factors considered as a hindrance to Universal Health Coverage is reaching some of the timid communities that are far from urbanisation.
Challenges such as lack of access routes, power supply and poor mobile network make it difficult to deliver adequate and quality services in these areas, he said.
Mr Ogundako explained how his organisation through collaboration with churches and mosques reach such unreachable areas.
“There is hardly any community you will go, no matter how timid, without seeing a church. You will have at least two or three of them.
“Since all the denominations are involved, we encourage them to open a clinic in the community because the government cannot reach some of these places. But through the churches, we reach them.
“What we do in Lagos is that in every religious denomination, we have representatives so that when we want to disseminate information and relief materials, it goes to the clinics in these communities directly.
The clergyman said the only challenge to their advocacy is funding.
“We don’t have enough funds to deliver adequate services to these areas. Funders like UKAID give us drugs and equipment, which we are using to give some free health services. The mission also does the funding.”