Nigeria Health Sector Decries Insufficient Funds

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control in collaboration with the  Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning  & Resolve To Save Lives have decried the insufficient funding of the health sector in the country.

In a workshop organised today in Abuja to discuss financing health security in Nigeria, with the theme “An Intersection of Health Security and Health Financing”.

The trio lended their voice to canvass for more funding of the sector.

TheFact Nigeria gathered that, in 2018, Nigeria launched a five year comprehensive multi-sectoral National Action Plan on Health Security (NAPHS) which provides a roadmap to improve public health in the country. However, the impact have not been significant.

Speaking at the workshop, Ben  Akabueze (the Director General, Budget Office for the Federal Republic of Nigeria) revealed that there was great need for increased domestic revenue mobilization as revenue to GDP ratio remained low.

This, he  said will enable increase in health sector allocation and also direct accretion to the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.

“Ratio of revenue to expenditure declined significantly by almost 30% points from 78.63% in 2014 to 49.65% in 2019. COVID-19 made an already bad situation worse”, he lamented.

Going further, he assured the public that financing infectious disease  epidemics and pandemics as well as other acute health events, including non-health components remains a priority for the Government.

WHO Nigeria Country Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo also stresed the need to ensure we have the framework for financing epidemic preparedness and response, he charged that as a country, we need to stand on our own feet and not solely rely on external financing.

His colleague,  Dr. Emmanuel Agogo, Resolve To Save Lives Country Representative said, “The previous & ongoing pandemics are evidences of how critical funding is to drive all aspects of public health response.”

“We can not over estimate the impact and importance of this workshop”, said “In the last year, we have worked hard to scale up our ability to respond to infectious diseases & strengthen our health systems nationwide with support from the Federal Government and partners”.

Proferring solution, Mr Akabueze advised that a mandatory contribution to the National Health Insurance Scheme by all taxable individuals in Nigeria is imperative to generate the level of resources required for programmes towards Universal Health Coverage.

“Given the value for money in preparing for epidemics and health emergencies which is estimated at $2 to $7 for every $1 spent, government is committed to funding epidemic preparedness.

“With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for greater investment in health sector became apparent. Preparedness is the best response and investing in preparedness is less costly than responding,” he added.

Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) admitted that the country has many challenges and government needs to make hard decisions everyday but maintained that health security needed to be put on that agenda.

“We have to narrow health security into specifics, the areas that should be funded and what exactly needs to be done.

“Intervention funds don’t solve problems in the long term. To build our long term resilience, we need to invest in those MDAs that are responsible for improving our nation’s health security,” he said.

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