By Iyemah David
National Advocates for Health (NA4H) under the coalition of civil society groups in health sector, have called for an increase in the 2023 proposed health budget, especially in Family planning.
The Chairman of NA4H, Mohammed Usman at a news conference in Abuja, described the 5.7 per cent allocation as grossly inadequate, given the country’s population of over 200 million.
According to him, there is an urgent need to also increase funding for family planning commodities.
Usman said it was regrettable that the government failed to fund family planning in 2022 and the proposed 2023 had no provision for such.
He said that in spite of the population growth leading to high rate of maternal deaths, insecurity and poverty, the country was yet to accord the desired funding for a sustainable population.
He, however, called on the National Assembly to review the proposed health budget to ensure adequate funding in the final budget.
“In a situation where the current proposed budget is less than N6,000 per head is a very low investment for health of Nigerians.
“There is need for the inclusion of the four million dollars as contained in the nation’s commitment in providing one per cent of its budget to family planning, and improving family planning services through contraceptive use, interventions and counterpart funding.
“We called on the government to also increase the current 5.7 per cent to the 15 per cent agreed at Abuja Declaration.
He said government should also maintain the one per cent Basic Healthcare Provision Funds (BHCPF) as a statutory transfer as provided in the National Health Act,” he added.
Usman also called for an increase in funding for polio eradication and other child-killer disease.
Speaking, Mrs Chika Offor, founder of Vaccine Network for Disease Control (VNDC), said budgeting for health was beyond allocation.
She added that government must ensure better implementation, utilisation of funds and evaluation to achieve a vibrant sector.
Mrs Offor said that the budget process enabled health officials to understand the mechanisms used to allocate resources for the health sector.
“Taking an active engagement helps align the budget process with health sector priorities, directing resources towards current and evolving health needs.
“However, knowing the full cost of producing a patient service allows a health care organisation to determine if a payment is adequate,” Offor said.
Similarly, Alhaji Sani Umar Jabni, District Head of Gagi, Sokoto, said that making the case for increased budget allocation to the health sector was critical if more domestic resources were to be garnered for financing universal health coverage (UHC).
Jabni, who is also Chairman, Association for the Advancement of Family Planning, said that the 2001 African Union (AU) meeting in Abuja, which hosted Heads of State, pledged to devote at least 15 per cent of their annual budgets to improve the health sector.
He said that this was a feat that Nigeria was yet to achieve.
He stated that in the 2023 budget, the provision for health at N1.58 trillion, was eight per cent and inadequate.
Jabni said that investments in family planning were an investment in saving the lives of women and children, adding that it would also lead to prosperity for all.
“Family planning, therefore, is critical to achieving Sustainable Development Goals which are aimed at ending poverty and improving wellness and health.
“It is also key to achieving ending hunger as well as promoting gender equality.
“That’s why a country as populous as Nigeria needs to promptly release the budget for the procurement of Family Planning (FP) commodities,” Jabni said.
The total sum allocated to the Ministry of Health out of the overall expenditure of the proposed N20.5 trillion in 2023 is N1.097 trillion, inclusive of the N47.6 billion provided for the BHCPF.
This is 5.35 per cent of the proposed budget expenditure. This is about one-third of the 15 per cent Abuja Declaration commitment.