Governors Propose Tax On Sugar, Used Vehicles To Fund Primary Healthcare

In line with efforts to generate funds for the improvement of the country’s primary health care system, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has hinted that it would propose tax on sugar and used vehicles imported into the country to finance the healthcare system.

Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi gave the hint on Wednesday, October 5, 2022 during the 2022 Primary HealthCare Financing Forum
held in Abuja.

Fayemi, who was represented by the Executive Governor of Nassarawa state, Engr. Abdullahi Sule said the country had to look inwards to garner resources and fund its Primary Healthcare System.

He said, it was good enough for USAID, World Bank and other international partners to support, however, Nigeria needed to extract money from its many under utilised places, citing example with sugar and second hand cars imported into the country, whose effects endanger our health, it would not be bad if tax on them are used to improve the health sector.

He explained that health systems were driven by their financing arrangements, which includes the number of funds they receive, how the funds are distributed across the system, and how they are utilised to provide equitable access to services.

He also stated that health financing was a critical building block of the health system that directly affects the functionality of the overall system, and until it is addressed, the issue of poor funding for health and the fragmentation of the health financing arrangements in Nigeria would remain in pursuit of Universal Health Coverage.

The Ekiti State Governor lamented that, even though it was a fact that the right to health was a fundamental human right, the ability of our country to guarantee this right for all Nigerians has been slow, largely due to how the health system was being financed and delivered.

He therefore, affirmed that the theme of the inaugural forum, “Financing Primary Healthcare in Nigeria” and the deliberations that occurred during the event were apt and timely because they touch on an issue that was critical to the foundation of sustainable development and the future of health in Nigeria.

He added that, to solve the problem of financing for primary health care and meet the demands for a responsive and high-performing health system, the utilisation of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) to finance essential health services, especially for the vulnerable and to improve the country’s capacity to address public health emergencies was apt.

Fayemi further suggested an increase in budgetary allocations for healthcare both at the national and state levels, also, exploration of innovative ways to pool funds for non-contributory healthcare coverage.

Reaffirming the commitement of the NGF to funding of the sector, Fayemi said, “the Nigerian Governors Forum at the recent launch of the Primary Health Care Leadership Challenge committed to a progressive increase in State-level funding for primary health care through the provision of efficient budgetary allocation that aligns with our annual operational plans.

“The NGF remains committed to working with the Federal Government and all partners to achieve our goals for primary healthcare and universal health coverage.

“Our partnership in eradicating Polio, and the inclusion of health-focused presentations in the monthly NGF meeting agenda, are examples of great collaboration, which must be sustained and built upon”.

Also, Commissioner Health And Human Services, Yobe State and Vice Chairman Health Commissioners’ Forum, Dr. Muhammad Lawan Gana said the COVID-19 pandemic brought out the need for standard and functional Primary Healthcare at the sub national levels into spotlight.

He added that it was evident primary health care drove improvements in immunization, communicable and non-communicable diseases, maternal health, and nutrition.

Therefore, “rethinking primary healthcare investments can secure a sustainable and more wholistic development for the Nigerian health sector. We can move the brick by working together to build a safer and healthier Nigeria for all of us.

“It is also paramount that we recognize the unwavering support of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in all activities of the Nigeria commissioners for health forum.

“While we continue to advocate to the NGF for sufficient investment in the health system, we must also be reminded that health access must be more equitable and efficient and we must prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable Nigerians, including women and children”, he said.

On his part, Ekiti State Governor-Elect, Mr Biodun Oyebanji disclosed that the outgoing governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi prioritised and improved primary healthcare in the State through a four-pronged approach that included: increased financing, human resource expansion, training, and equitable distribution, infrastructural development, and strategic inputs to service delivery.

He also narrated its ripple effect on the state’s health sector and promised to sustain and improve on the giant strides made.

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