By Iyemah David
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi said the government is committed to the COVID-19 pandemic and health security, and equitable recovery funds.
Abayomi said this in Lagos on Friday when a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the Media paid him a visit on the state COVID-19 and Health Security scorecard, organised by the African Health Budget Network (AHBN).
The commissioner disclosed that the state now has an emergency preparedness budget line above the normal emergency response budget in the state.
“It is a continuation of our COVID-19 response, it is a dedicated budget line that we have created for the 2022 and 2023 state budgets. Last year the state had about three billion for emergency response and for next year the state has an equal amount, but that’s because it was generated.
“Apart from that, the government is now committing a vote of charge whether or not the state ministry of health is generating income. We had that this year and we are also likely to have that in 2023,” he explained.
He said that the vote of charge the state had for emergency preparedness in 2021 was about N1 billion for public health emergencies and also N250 million for a medical emergency.
“Apart from that, we had about three billion for dedicated response to COVID-19, which will be replicated for 2023. So, we have money for COVID-19 in the states and other infectious disease outbreaks in the state,” he explained.
Abayomi said that the state also has its sustainability plan and also made it not a drain on the state budget.
“Lagos state does not see health as a constant drain on its budget, we approached it as a generation of income.
“So in Lagos state we have 70 per cent of people go to the private healthcare centres while people who go to the private sector are just 30 per cent so we are doing the same thing by partitioning response to emergencies,” he said.
The commissioner has said that the private sector should be able to manage some of the cases so that not everyone in the state is coming to the public facilities.
“Not everybody is coming into the public sector where it’s always free, at least for COVID-19 when they go to the private sector, you know, no private sector will deliver services for free to you whether it is testing, or care or vaccination.
“But we are the regulators. So, there’s a regulatory fee for us to ensure quality assurance, that regulatory fee by the time we deploy, I mean these people now work for us so we deploy them to you is the work they’re doing. That way we build into the system,” he explained.
Chair of the National Advocates for Health, Muhammad Usman said that the COVID-19 and health security accountability scorecard was developed through; the adaptation of indicators from the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Joint External Evaluation tool for evaluation of International Health Regulation (IHR).
Usman said that the second edition, review of government documents including budget and presentations, review of COVID-19-related government online dashboards, advocacy/retreat meetings with relevant government agencies, CSOs, media and young people.
He said that the scorecard was developed to report CSOs’ review of Lagos state`s capacity for preparedness and response to health security and COVID-19.
“The scorecard serves as an evidence tool to be used by all stakeholders including CSOs, professionals, media, advocates, young people and development partners to strategically influence actions that will mobilize resources, promote prudent spending, transparency and accountability of COVID-19 and health security fund,” he said.
Speaking, the Coordinator, AHBN, Dr Aminu Magashi Garba, noted that the scorecard indicators were grouped into two main categories; prevent and respond.
Dr Magashi disclosed that the funding for the development, design and production of the scorecard was made available by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation through its COVID-19 Equitable Recovery Initiative.
Earlier, the coordinator called the state on to map resources and establish health security and COVID-19 equitable recovery fund.
He advised the state on the importance of peer learning by also publishing the state government 2021 and 2022 COVID-19 and Health Security expenditure report.
Magashi advocated for the availability of adequate COVID-19 vaccines in all the state`s vaccination centres aimed at increasing uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.
He, however, called on the state to strengthen collaborative effort between legislators and CSOs for oversight of COVID-19 fund spending.