By Maimunat Abdulrahman
This was contained in a press statement issued by the National Advocates for Health (NA4H) to journalists on Wednesday 18 March 2020. The group has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prioritise health as a political agenda and sustain its funding in the midst of Coronavirus pandemic and crashed global oil price. The evidence of the adverse impact of Coronavirus on the Health sector, banking sector, economy, the social distancing and lock down of regions are strong justifications for the Government of Nigeria to see that health should be prioritized.
The group also commended the efforts of the federal government and its agencies in speedy response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The statement issued by the group also observed that despite the above effort of Federal Government, they noted the non-compliance with Abuja declaration of Allocation of 15% of National revenue to the Health sector, gross under-funding of the health sector which is responsible for our dysfunctional health care system, medical tourism and human capital flight to greener pastures resulting in inequitable distribution of Health manpower and unacceptable preventable mortality and morbidity. Currently, also, governments at national and sub-national levels are worsening the inequality by under-funding public services such as Education, Health, Water and Environmental Sanitation.
The group chaired by Professor Oladapo A. Ladipo OON also observed the following, as contained in the press statement;
- The Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) of N50 billion is captured in the Part C of the 2020 approved budget ‘Statutory Transfers’
- About N46 Billion is allocated and approved for the Health Capital Budget with bulk of it committed to Immunization.
- 5 billion for Expanded Midwives Service Scheme, N729 Million for Cancer Funds and N1.2 Billion for Family Planning Procurement.
It observed that while the aforementioned allocations are already appropriated in the 2020 approved budget, implementation of the overall 2020 budget may suffer cuts and delay in disbursement as Coronavirus continues to impact on the global oil market which Nigerian government substantially relies on, to finance its budget.
As a matter of urgency, the group called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Finance Mrs Zainab Ahmed to prioritise health as a political agenda and ensure all its funding are released on time and in full as Nigeria’s ability to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic and economic crises relies on its healthy population and healthy workforce. Said the group.