Why Nigeria allocated 64% health budget to primary healthcare – Minister

Health Minister, Dr. Isaac Adewole
Health Minister, Dr. Isaac Adewole

The Nigerian government allocated the largest chunk of is 2018 health budget to primary healthcare because the facilities are closest to the people, Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole has said.

Mr Adewole said giving 64 per cent of the ministry’s budget to the subsector was a sign that the current administration pays premium to improving access to healthcare in the country.

Speaking at the official launch of the Technical Support Programme (TSP) in Abuja on Tuesday, he said government believes investing in primary healthcare is the right way to go towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.

“Investing in PHC is the right way to go. Over the last two years, we have changed the funding structure and the Executive Director (of National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA) will testify to the fact that the agency is gulping the largest chunk of our allocation,” the minister said.

“When we started, it was from 18 per cent and moved to 64 per cent.”

Mr Adewole explained that much spending is going into PHC because previous spending on teaching hospitals had failed to achieve the desired result, hence the need to re-focus.

“Many of my colleagues were disappointed because they thought our primary focus will be teaching hospitals,” he said. “But I think we will be wasting our time and energy if we decide to go that way.

“Number one, we have done that already and we have not really achieved the desired result. So we need to turn things around to focus on primary health care where our people go to and that is the facility closest to our people,” he said.

Mr Adewole said the TSP, which was approved at the last National Council of Health meeting, was meant to strengthen coordination of technical supports to states so as to ensure one health plan across Nigeria.

He noted that the initiative would also help address the various challenges in the health sector and also ensure the realisation of the goal of one framework, one implementation plan and one evaluation plan for the Nigeria health sector.

In his welcome remarks, the Executive Director, NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib, noted that states still struggle with challenges in the area of primary healthcare, which underlines the need for technical assistance from the centre.

He said the TSP was designed to facilitate effective delivery of support to State Primary HealthCare Boards

“Today, states continue to struggle with cold chain maintenance, delivery of vaccines in the right quantity, to the right place and at the right time, shortage of human resources for health, just to mention a few.

“The persistence of these challenges clearly highlights the need for the NPHCDA to improve on the delivery of its mandate to provide policy direction, technical and logistics support to states and local government areas (LGAs to implement PHC services across the 36 states and FCT),” he said.

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