2017 Budget Allocation: Groups Commend FG on Increase in Capital Health Projects

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Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
One Campaign, and Connected Development (CODE) have commended the federal government for increasing the 2017 budgetary allocation in the health sector that was recently presented before the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The group hinted that while it applauded the budget increase in capital health projects as a step in the right direction, it was urging the government to lay more emphasis on primary health care delivery and fighting malnutrition so as to alleviate suffering amongst the citizens particularly the poor and those in the North-east who were mostly affected by poverty.

This was contained in a statement signed by One Campaign Country Representative, Mr. Edwin Ikhouria and made available to the media recently in Abuja.

According to Ikhouria, “the increase in health allocations announced in the budget is progress and should be welcomed. Putting more money into Nigeria’s health will not only boost the economy but will change people’s lives, particularly the poor, who are living in dire circumstances especially during this recession.

“Only by delivering on the commitment and building a pathway towards spending 15 per cent on health as promised in the 2001 African Union Abuja Declaration, will government be poised to ending the health crisis in the country.”

One Campaign further urged the government not to stop the momentum. “While we welcome the development as progress on health with increased investment, we further urged the government to invest more in the sector, specifically in primary healthcare to combat the health crisis facing the nation.

“This momentum should not stop and we hope it continues to progress, by creating the Basic Health Care Provision Fund with a minimum of 1 per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund into health and fulfilling the promises made in the National Health Act.”

Speaking in similar vein, Chief Executive Officer, Connected Development (CODE), Mr. Hamzat Lawal, said: “The 2017 budget presentation brings hope for citizens, mostly people in rural communities.”

Hamzat stated that public healthcare investments remain key ingredient of development, poverty reduction strategy and human capital development.

While pledging to support the government by working with the communities to ensure that moneys were actually spent well and transparently, he said, “To ensure better health outcomes in communities, we urge the government to open up the budgets so that citizens can follow the money allocated to improve their welfare and as part of contributing to good governance.

“To streamline into the health sector, the World Bank gave our government $500m and this money has been shared to the 36 state governors and the FCT which $1.5m was distributed to them, amounting to N400m. It might interest you to know that we have visited most of the states that have received this fund but nothing is happening on the ground,” Hamzat added.

It would be recalled that Nigerians, at a town hall meeting with Senator Bukola Saraki, on December 1, 2016, organised by ONE Campaign and CODE, asked for government to take more measures to increase transparency in the health sector, the implementation of the Health Act and the development of the primary healthcare system especially in rural communities where there is the low or no access to healthcare facilities and provisions.

The petition, which was presented by lawmaker at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Surulere Constituency and Nollywood actor, Desmond Elliot, to the Senate President on behalf of Nigerians, implored the government to implement the 15 per cent agreement that they had with other nations to put into every budget as it comes out into the health sector.

The petition also asked that every health sector from the state to the local government level should dedicate 15 per cent of their budget to promote and improve, implement a re-emerging and rebirth of the sector.

While the Senate President agreed with the petitioners on the importance of primary healthcare development especially to the rural and hard-to-reach communities, he also promised increased oversight on how the executives spend the taxpayers’ funds, most importantly funds that come from international development partners.