National Advocates for Health pay advocacy visit to the DG, Nigeria Governors Forum
Members of the National Advocates for Health (N4H) call on the government of Nigeria to prioritize adequate funding and development of the health and education sector. The group made the call during an advocacy visit to the Director General, Nigeria Governors Forum, Mr A.B. Okauru in Abuja. In attendance were advocate members from ARFH, Pathfinder International, AAFP, MIDSPACE, and Albright Stone Bridge Group.
The Chair, Prof. O.A Ladipo expressed concerns that the Nigeria health and education sector are grossly underfunded despite the fact that these two are the twin engines of economic growth and good quality of life. He stated that this concern are worrisome because health is not on the statutory list of the Nigerian constitution rather on the concurrent list, which does not put the government under any obligation to allocate adequate resources to improve the health sector. Further explaining that the current allocation to the health sector at 4% is not in-line with the Abuja declaration of 15%. He commended the government for passing the Basic Health Provision Care Act as well as allocating the first tranche of funds to BHCPF in 2015 (approx. N55.2Billion), but noted that only about 25% was ultimately released.
According to him, the call for improved funding to the health sector will support the implementation of innovative interventions that will check the country’s alarming population growth, mitigate the ongoing migration of Nigerian healthcare workers to foreign countries and high maternal mortality & morbidity, neonatal mortality and child mortality. The group also raised concerns about the country’s poor family planning funding and overdependence on donor support, highlighting the need for the government to meet up with her commitments made at the 2012 and 2017 Family Planning Summit. Noting that the recent cut of the national FP budget by 80% will have an adverse effect on the provision of essential FP services.
They made an appeal to the State Governors to prioritize health and allocate more funds for Family Planning at the state level to complement the support of the federal government. “Federal government has done a lot in putting in place relevant health policies and the domestication of international agreements for the country. We appeal to Governors to align themselves with the federal and operationalize these policies when considering budgets for the state ministries of health,” says Prof. Ladipo.
In response, the DG, NGF Secretariat acknowledged the issues brought forward by the advocacy team but noted that the NGF may not be able to influence budgets at the federal level, however, they are pushing to ensure efficiency is the spending of allocated funds. He stated the need for the country to think of alternative ways of generating more money for the health sector, such as through tax, that they are exploring ways of using health as an incentive to get citizens to pay their statutory taxes. He also stated that although many State Governors are more concerned with human capital development because of the rising nation’s population, they would bring to the notice of the federal government on the looming crisis resulting from the 2019 budget cuts. Reassuring the group that this and other salient issues will be raised at the next National Executive Council meeting. He reiterated the health commitments of the strategic Plan of the NGF secretariat is to help the Governors achieve the Abuja declaration, build partnership with all relevant MDAs of health and health care financing for improving access to affordable healthcare services to the vulnerable.