By Zayamu Hassan
Since inception, the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) has so far received over N101 billion naira from the Federation Account.
The Secretary of the BHCPF Ministerial Oversight Committee, Dr Chris Osa Isokpunwu, who disclosed this at the opening ceremony of a two-day retreat organised by the Health Sector Reform Coalition (HSRC) in Abuja, further revealed that the BHCPF is now a statutory release since 2021 and that the releases are always 100 per cent.
The retreat was supported by Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) and other partners.
Dr. Isokpunwu further disclosed that the funds so far received have been disbursed to over 7600 primary health care facilities across the country.
“It is November now and we have received our releases up to October which account to about 83 per cent of the total funds that will be released this year.
“We have also made progress in the enrollment of the number of beneficiaries as well as in the disbursement of funds to over 7600 primary health care facilities across the country.
“While we may not regard the enrolment of beneficiaries or the disbursement of funds to health facilities as an achievement, we believe that there will be achievement when we begin to feel the impact of this funding and that is where the coalition comes in to ensure accountability of the funding at all levels, supporting the government to block all leakages and calling out those who are involved in the pilfering of resources,” he explained.
Dr. Isokpunwu who also doubles as the Senior Technical Adviser to the Minister, however, disclosed that the BHCPF has funds for Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure that some funding gets to the states to promote the activities of the emergency operation centres.
The states, he noted, also need to provide their own counterpart to do that.
He, however, charged the CSOs to continue to advocate for increased funding for health across all levels of government
“It is true that the budget office of the federation has said that the federal ministry of health keeps returning funds and there is no basis for asking for more. But we know that there is a lot that need to be done with money in the health sector.
“The BHCPF, the creation of the National Health Act promises to be a game changer in the health sector if there is increased funding.”
Another area the CSOs need to prioritize, according to him, is the primary health care system, noting that: “We all agree that it is first point of call for all Nigerians, but why is it that with all the funding and resources that we are committing to primary health care, the results are not changing?
“Maternal mortality is still high, under-five mortality is still high and in fact, neonatal mortality refuses to move anywhere. Either it is stagnant or it continue to go up.
“We realise that the human resource for health in the primary health care system is poor, we also realise that the quality of services delivered in the primary health care is also poor. What can the coalition do to strengthen that system to deliver quality health services to Nigerians.
“Another agenda I like to also propose is preparing for the next pandemic. It is a matter of time and we will be faced with another pandemic. Is our health system able to stand and face the next pandemic? The Coalition can set agenda for government and also push government to continue to build infrastructure for such situation.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the HSRC, Dr Idris Muhammed, said that the retreat was meant to address some pertinent issues including finalising the development of appropriate Charter for the Coalition and to develop a two-year coasted work plan for the Coalition “but more importantly to enable us develop a sustainable funding sources and path ways for the coalition which we believe is very key if the coalition must pursue its objectives.”
The retreat, according to him, was also aimed at developing an agenda for the coalition’ activities especially, in keeping with the Nigeria Health Sector Reform initiative.