The low percentage of the Lagos State government’s budget allocated to the health sector has remained a huge challenge in tackling matters of maternal and child health, a health advocacy group, Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PACFaH@Scale), has said.
Shina Ogunbiyi, a representative of the group, stated this Tuesday during a meeting with officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Health in Alausa, Lagos.
Mr Ogunbiyi said his group is partnering with the ministry to move issues relating to the health and wellbeing of Lagosians forward, especially in relation to family planning and routine immunisation.
“In 2018, Lagos State allocated N92.676 billion or nine per cent of the total budget to the health sector but released only N21.315 billion or 23 per cent of the allocated sum,” he said.
“It is our prayer for full and timely release of allocations to the health sector.”
PACFaH noted that the unmet need for family planning in the state has increased by 4.7 per cent over the last five years, stating that it shows that services are not able to keep pace with the demands of women seeking family planning.
According to Mr Ogunbiyi, while the Lagos’ health sector has key challenges, it is also leading all states in Nigeria in terms of women delivering by skilled birth attendants (80 per cent), women using modern family planning methods (29 per cent), children under five with no vaccination (1.7 per cent), and children with severe anaemia (0.4 per cent).
Responding, Titilayo Goncalves, the acting commissioner for health, said the government would appreciate any contribution made by PACFaH towards easing the healthcare burden on the state.
“We have over 22 million people to look after,” she said.
“I see immunisation of children and family health is your focus and we know that by catching them young and immunising the children, we would be able to groom a healthier population and we are grateful you are willing to partner with us on this.
“On skills upgrade, we pride ourselves as being the centre of excellence in Nigeria and we lead other states in innovation and we are aware new methods come up every day and so we invest a lot in the capacity of our staff we look forward to working on this with you.”
While speaking to the concern of age of consent as relates to access to family planning for youth, Mrs Goncalves said there are seven youth-friendly centres across the state.
“Some of them go after hours where they interact, we have counsellors there, we have social workers, we have doctors there and we see this as an avenue for youths and teenagers to go to.
“Not everyone will be free at home. Some are molested, some have boyfriends with no one to advise them on steps to take.
“I believe the first step in addressing this issue is to avail ourselves to the youth so they can open up to us. This helps reduce unwanted pregnancy, the fact that they have access to FP and counsellors. We would work on this and give a response.”