By Zayamu Hassan
The Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) has called on the Federal Government to release more funds to agencies in the health sector that begun work with the initial 50 percent disbursed to them from the N500 billion COVID-19 stimulus funds.
Coordinator of the AHBN, Dr Aminu Garba Magashi, made the call in a statement issued to newsmen on Monday in Abuja.
The statement recalled that last year, the Federal Government of Nigeria appropriated N500 billion into the revised budget of the financial year 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fund which is equivalent to $1.4 billion was a support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a stimulus package for COVID-19 intervention.
The aim of the appropriated fund was to channel additional resources to health-related recurrent and capital spending and non-health interventions in order to support critical sectors of the economy.
The statement revealed that the health sector received a whooping sum of N126 billion for intervention in key critical areas with the aim of building a resilient health system, while non-health sectors got N374 billion.
“The N126 billion for the health sector was targeted to be used for capital and recurrent expenditures. N86 billion was allocated for capital projects, while N40 billion for recurrent budget items,” he said.
Dr Magashi insisted in the statement that the money is meant for the improvement of the Nigeria’s health sector, hence, should be used judiciously, transparently and accountably.
He added: “Any delay in putting the money to use will be seen as sabotage to Nigerians because this money is meant to improve healthcare delivery services for the people.
“The agencies should use the funds transparently, judiciously in an accountable manner for the purpose they were meant for, in order to have a healthcare system that is of international standard.”
Dr Magashi, therefore, called on the Federal Government to identify the agencies that have since begun work with the 50 percent of the funds earlier released to them and urgently release the remaining 50 percent so that they can complete the projects for the good of all Nigerians.
“We encourage the National Assembly to strengthen their oversight function and hold all the agencies that received funds to account for them. We also call on the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to make information on funds releases available to the public for scrutiny,” Dr Magashi added.