Lawmakers in the House of Representatives have pledged to partner with their counterparts in the Senate to ensure proper budgetary allocation for the health sector in the 2017 budget as deliberate measure to improve quality of lives for Nigerians.
The legislators made the commitment recently, in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital at a legislative retreat on immunization, health financing and national health act, where they identified inadequate budgetary allocation and poor funding of the health sector as factors inhibiting quality health care delivery in Nigeria.
The retreat which involved committee chairmen and members of the House of Representatives stressed that poor funding and budgetary allocation are barriers to achieving quality health care delivery in the country.
To tackle these therefore, the lawmakers in the lower chamber have expressed preparedness to partner with their counterparts in the Senate to ensure proper budgetary allocation for the health sector in the 2017 budget as deliberate measure to improve quality of lives for Nigerians.
When adequately funded, the lawmakers believe the health sector could have positive economic benefits as finances expended by Nigerians on treatment of preventable ailments could be diverted to more useful ventures.
The legislators also said that the funding gap for the health sector as well as the non-allocation of funds for the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund in the 2015 and 2016 budgets has further increased the vulnerability of the health of Nigerians and the health system.
The House committee chairmen and members who took this position included the Vice Chairman of Health Care Services Hon. Mohammed Usman, the Chairman of AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria control, Hon. Davematics D. E. Ombugadu and a member of Appropriation committee representing the chairman, Hon. Johnbull Shekarau.
A communique signed by the lawmakers and other stakeholders who participated in the one day retreat, identified the need for stronger collaboration between the National Assembly and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in projecting shared commitment towards the achievement of better quality of health for all Nigerians.
“The poor funding for primary health care as well as the non-inclusion of not less than one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) in the national budgets of 2015 and 2016 as well as the proposed 2017 budget to finance the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), as stipulated by the National Health Act 2014, has caused great concern among many Nigerians.
Also, the delay in the full implementation of the National Health Act including the non-allocation of funds for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund in the 2015 and 2016 budgets has further increased the vulnerability of the health of Nigerians and the health system.
The communique read: “Again, the need for stronger collaboration between the National Assembly and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in projecting shared commitment towards the achievement of better quality of health for all Nigerians is imperative.
The House of Representatives shall work with their counterparts in the Senate to ensure the allocation of adequate funds for health particularly immunization, family planning, nutrition and other health services in the 2017 budget
“And the House Committees shall work with CSOs to also take necessary actions promptly to ensure budgetary allocation of not less than one per cent CRF to finance the Basic Health Care Fund in the 2017 budget,” it added.
It charged the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to work with stakeholders in the health sector to achieve Universal Health Coverage for all Nigerians by 2030 with active involvement of states, communities, CSOs and the private sector.
Furthermore, the communique stressed the need to clean up the operations of the National Health Insurance Scheme, improve the accuracy and transparency of the database of enrolees and eliminate corrupt practices.
Participants, through the communique, developed a work plan to drive commitment towards working together to ensure its successful implementation, while the resolutions included a short, medium and long term plan.
The retreat was organised in collaboration with; National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and Federal Ministry of Health and co-sponsored by the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), Direct Consulting and Logistics (DCL), ONE Campaign, Community Health Research Initiative (CHR) and Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON).
Other sponsors are Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Civil Society – Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP) and Preston Healthcare Consulting. These were part of the stakeholders who signed the communiqué.