The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Lanre Tejuosho, has decried budgetary allocation to health sector, saying it was disproportionate in comparison to its mandate.
He said that the ministry’s allocation had continued to “show no break in gloomy pattern over the years”.
Mr. Tejuosho stated this on Wednesday at a news briefing in Abuja and said that “in the 2017 Capital Budget of N2.24 trillion, the health sector was allocated N51 billion (representing 2.78per cent).”
According to him, Nigeria is spending over one billion dollars (about N305.25 billion) annually on medical treatment abroad and such external expenditure is not good for the nation’s economy.
He said that in spite of being a signatory to the 2001 African Union Abuja Declaration, Nigeria had not met with the minimum requirement of allocating 15 per cent of the total annual budget to health.
“Shedding the toga of the past, 2017 budget presents a unique opportunity for us to enhance and develop our health sector,” he said.
The lawmaker noted that the 8th Senate was committed to improving health conditions, health standards and service delivery through realistic appropriation and judicious utilisation driven by legislative oversight.
He also decried the high poverty rate as well as infant and maternal mortality rates in the country.
“The 2015 World Health Organisation (WHO) says that approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and child-birth every day.
“A high percentage of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries, including Nigeria.
“More specifically, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 children under five years and 145 women of child-bearing age.
“This makes the country the second largest contributor to the under-five and maternal mortality rate in the world,” he said.
Mr. Tejuoso said that their collective incomes as legislators could not solve the problems of all citizens who found themselves in such unfortunate situations.
“We believe strongly that if we are able to, through policies, reduce mortality rate and set our sector on a right footing, we will be setting the stage for a healthy workforce.
“The workforce that will give birth to a robust economy and sustainable development.
“That is why we have engaged stakeholders from within and outside the shores of Nigeria to discuss processes and mechanisms that would promote health financing, development and accountability in the country.
“In this period of recession, our goal is to achieve value. We must give all it takes to find and consolidate lasting solutions to Nigeria’s maternal and child health challenges through legislation and appropriation,” he stated.
He pointed out that the Federal Government was concerned on how to reduce maternal and child mortality to the barest and was attending to it with seriousness.
“With the situation in the country, a practical way to walk our way out of the economic recession is by boosting investment in human capital which will in turn stimulate growth.”
The chairman while also decrying the non-implementation of the National Health Act and provisions of the Consolidated Revenue Fund called for an emergency intervention to the health sector.
“It is a sector we must champion a revolution through the right appropriation and diligent oversight to ensure judicious use of resources for optimum results,” he said.