Coalition writes Buhari on investment in healthcare
The group said healthcare is the foundation of national security, economic growth and recovery plan.
In an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari today, a coalition of civil society organisations, nongovernmental organisations and the media has advocated an increase in allocation to healthcare in the 2018 budget. The group, Nigerian Health Sector Reform Coalition (HSRC), comprising Nigeria Medical Association and Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria among tens others, wants budgetary allocation to the health sector to reach 7.5% of total national budget.
If implemented, this advocacy will take the federal budgetary allocation for health in Nigeria to mid-way of the Abuja Declaration by African Heads of States that committed 15% of the annual country budget for health. The coalition also wants Buhari to implements the 1% Consolidated Revenue Fund towards the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund as provided for in the National Health Act 2014.
The total amount allocated to the health sector in the 2017 budget is N380 billion, which constitutes 5.1% of the national budget of N7.44 trillion. This includes the allocation to the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) at N308 billion (4.1% of the national budget) and allocations to governmental institutions outside the FMoH such as the State House Medical Centre, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, the National Health Insurance Scheme payment for federal workers not made by the FMoH, as well as other health related allocations.
The budget for the FMoH increased from N250 billion in 2016 to N308 billion in 2017, while the entire health sector allocation increased from N353 billion in 2016 to N380 billion in 2017.
However, the group considered inflation and the sustained growth of the Nigerian population as rendering the increased allocation to healthcare to pale, compared to the needs of the Nigerian people.
The group said healthcare is the foundation of national security, economic growth and recovery plan. “An investment in health not only boosts the economy, but is also a critical determinant of quality of the workforce,” it said. “An investment of $1 in reducing stunting among children yields $11 in economic benefits, while $1 invested in ensuring breastfeeding yields $35 in economic benefits. In addition, when countries invest $1 in immunizations they stand to gain between $16 and $44 in economic returns.”
According to UNICEF, Nigeria’s basic immunization coverage is the eighth worst in the world. More mothers die of largely preventable deaths in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world – 6 mothers die every hour. If we take into account the population, Nigeria has the fourth highest maternal mortality ratio in the world – behind Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Chad.
The HSRC is a non-partisan. Under the aegis of the coalition, members have gathered signatures of over 188,000 Nigerians in the efforts to increase health funding, through the #MakeNaijaStronger campaign. The open letter came one week after President Buhari resume work from home, on his return from the UK where he spent 103 days in latest round of seeking medical treatment abroad.
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