Sixteen years after member states of the African Union met in Nigeria’s Federal Capital, Abuja, and pledged to commit at least 15 per cent of their national budget to health, Nigeria is yet to comply with the declaration, popularly known as Abuja 2001 Declaration.
Health professionals in the country, who met on Thursday, during a workshop in Abuja, said Rwanda has allocated 18 per cent of it national budget to health, while Botswana and Malawi have allocated 17.8 per cent and 17.1 per cent respectively. Zambia is 16.4 per cent, while Burkina Faso is 15 per cent.
Meanwhile, Nigeria which hosted the Abuja Declaration, is still at 4.3 per cent, “with no trajectory towards achieving the 15 per cent target,” said the health professionals who met to assess the Medium Term Sector Strategy (MTSS), Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), and the budget process for health, as well as the role of civil society organisations.
The federal government allocated N250 billion to the ministry of health in the 2016 budget, out of the total budget sum of N6.6 trillion, while a little above that – N259 billion – was allocated to the ministry in 2015.
The participants at the one-day workshop, organised by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria-Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PSN-PACFaH), called for the increase in the allocation, especially in capital expenditure, to the health sector in the 2017 budget.
The workshop recommended that “not less than 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) stipulated by the National Health Act 2014 to fund the Basic Health Care Provision Package (BHCPP) should be included in the 2017 Federal Budget,” and that the preparation for the 2018 budget should commence as early as March or April 2017.
The workshop said that the right to healthcare was one of the fundamental human rights, which the government of Nigeria is encouraged to prioritise, and added that government plans, policies and strategies on health should be made open and accessible in line with the Open Government Partnership Policy.
The workshop also recommended “in-year, mid-year and end-year budget performance and audit reports should be made public” to improve accountability, openness and transparency in the budget preparation and implementation process.
The representatives of development partners such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Clinton Health Access Initiative, and Society for Family Health were present at the workshop.
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