Stakeholders in the health sector have appealed to the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) to, as a matter of urgency, release the budget approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the procurement of the family planning commodities to the tune of USD4 million.
The appeal was contained in a statement issued by the Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) on Wednesday, August 10, 2022.
According to the statement, the stakeholders made the call as part of their recommendations at the end of a 2-day retreat to review draft national and state scorecards on the Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child Adolescent and Elderly Health plus Nutrition (RMNCAEH+N) Recovery plan and COVID-19 and Health Security Accountability, championed by the Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), in Lagos.
It noted that the RMNCAEH+N Recovery Plan during COVID-19 accountability scorecard was developed through rigorous analysis of the 2022 federal government approved budget, review and validation meetings and independent monitoring of the activities of the RMNCAEH+N National Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Ccoordination Platform.
AHBN explained that the scorecard which has three categories is to serve as an evidence tool to be used by all stakeholders including Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), media, advocates, young people and development partners to strategically influence actions that will promote performance, transparency and accountability in the implementation of Nigeria’s RMNCAEH+N Continuity Response Plan (2020-2022) during COVID-19.
The scorecard reported three categories including Governance and Leadership, Budgetary Allocation and Disbursement; Accountability and Transparency.
The stakeholders further urged the RMNCAEH+N platform to formalize the participation of CSOs and youth constituencies with clear roles and modalities of engagement.
They also recommended that CSOs and youth representatives on the RMNCAEH+N platform strengthen meaningful engagement with their constituencies through formal channels for inputs and feedback.
Other recommendations put forward by the stakeholders included the provision of a dedicated page to be created on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies where information about budget releases and expenditure could be sighted and that CSOs, youth and media to engage the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Finance and donor community to galvanize collaborative efforts towards strengthening the RMNCAEH+N platform and support implementation of the recovery plan.
“The NGOs, advocates and other critical stakeholders must find a way of talking to the government and the Ministry of Finance, in particular the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) for the release of approved budgets.
“They are there. It does not make sense to leave money laying without releasing it to be used for the purpose it is meant for. This retreat is an opportunity for us to call on the government emphasizing that these monies must be released.
“At least, before the end of this year, we should have those releases so that the health sector will be improved,” said Hon. Mohammed Usman, Chairman, National Advocates for Health (NA4H).
“Investments in family planning is an investment in saving the lives of women and children and lead to prosperity for all. Family planning, therefore, is critical to achieving Sustainable Development Goals which are aimed at ending poverty and improving wellness and health.
“It is also key to achieving ending hunger as well as promoting gender equality. That’s why a country as populous as Nigeria needs to promptly release the budget for the procurement of Family Planning (FP) commodities”, said Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba, the Coordinator of AHBN.