‘Budget Work Will Advance Maternal Health in Nigeria’

20 Mar 2014

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Prsident Goodluck Jonathan

By Abimbola Akosile

Budget analysis and monitoring of the implementation of the maternal health budgets in Nigeria has been described as the missing link in the maternal and reproductive health advocacy chain in the country.

The assertion was made by the Executive Director of International Centre for Development and Budget Advocacy Abuja, Mr. Ugo Jim-Nwoko, who described Nigeria as a country with a high rate of official corruption over the years. 

Jim-Nwoko, in a position paper, referred to the MDGs office, which in 2012 insisted that maternal and child health situations for the country have fallen drastically.

“According to them, maternal mortality rate is now 350 deaths out of every 100,000 births as against 545 recorded by the 2008 statistics. The report also showed that while in 2008, 157 children die out of every 1,000 live births, things are looking better as 94 children now die per 1,000 live births. 

“Nigeria promised to allocate 15 per cent of its budget to health in line with 2001 Abuja Declaration and to spend $54 per health capita. Our current health budget is about 6 per cent and we are spending about $20 per capita annually. There are strong indications to believe that much of these resources are not released.

“The campaign for more financial investment in the maternal health sub-sector of the Nigeria’s health system has been the pattern of advocacy, common among major stakeholders in the maternal and child health cause”, he added.

The development expert said this approach needs to be expanded to the extent that beyond the call for more financial commitment to maternal and child health, genuine efforts have to be made by interested and skilled stakeholders and maternal health advocates to analyse and monitor the public resources being invested regularly and annually by different tiers of governments, donor agencies and various intervention programmes.
“For instance, the Federal Government of Nigeria says it is spending N16 billion through the SURE-P Maternal and Child Health launched on May 13, 2013 to run for four years (2012-2015)
“The project is directed at pregnant women and newborn babies. It will also directly contribute to the socioeconomic development of Nigeria through improving the lives of women and children.

It is expected that the gains of the project will contribute significantly towards reducing maternal and neo-natal mortality rates in Nigeria. SURE-P MCH can increase antenatal care attendance by 52 per cent, skilled birth attendance and post-natal care by 63 per cent, and triple the number of women within target communities using family planning/child spacing services by 2015.

“Budget work will help determine if governments at different levels are really allocating and spending funds in line with its maternal health and MDGs obligations relating to women and children. A reproductive right and maternal health-based analysis of Nigeria’s situation might suggest certain policy or programme choices.

“Budget work can assist Federal, State and Local governments, legislators and civil society organisations identify the cost of those choices and where funding for those choices might be found in the budget”, Jim-Nwoko added.

According to him, “the issue of resource-curse in Nigeria is a case of suffering and poor service delivery in the midst of enormous commonwealth of our nation. Also poor indicators in the social sectors, like education, health, water and sanitation cannot be blamed only on poor and insufficient allocations and investments.

“The challenge we face as a nation has been more as a result of the undue influence of corruption on our development process. So, as much as it is important to invest more in the health sector or maternal health specifically, so it is, to analyse and monitor the budgetary process in this area that is so critical to our national development.

“Nigeria is the most populated nation in Africa and most of the social and development problems facing the African continent are to a good extent common in Nigeria. If Nigeria could tackle its social and development problems, then great hope would have come for the majority of Africa’s population”, he added.

Tags: Nigeria, Featured, Business, Goodluck Jonathan

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