CSOs Demand Transparency, Accountability in Health Budget

CSOs Demand Transparency, Accountability in Health Budget

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

Civil society organisations have demanded transparency and accountability in the implementation of the nation’s health budget.

The organisation drawn from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), cluster members across the seven focal states of the project, key government agencies and the media noted that the dwindling resources of the government is a reason why stakeholders must demand transparency and accountability in the implementation of the health budget.

The Lead Director of the Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere, who welcomed everyone to the summit held in Abuja last Tuesday, noted that while the advocacy for more money to health would be continued, stakeholders must also demand that more healthcare be delivered from the available resources.

He also noted that strategies must be deployed to increase the absorptive capacities of the health MDAs and put an end to the incidence of high unspent funds despite declining health indicators.

The Right to Health Cluster of the civil society organisations anchored by the Centre for Social Justice held a civil society summit on the implementation of the 2024 health budget, drawing participants from the Centre for Social Justice, cluster members across the seven focal states of the project, key government agencies and the media.

The National Health Insurance Authority represented by Joy Egharevba and Ukoh Eberechi presented a paper on the ‘Mandatory Health Insurance Under the NHIA ACT: What Next?’

 The paper highlighted the major highpoints of the NHIA Act 2022 to include clearly defined roles and relations between stakeholders; provision for mandatory health insurance; provision for the Vulnerable Group Fund; modifications to the composition of the Governing Council; and recognition of the State Social Health Insurance Agencies.

The Federal Ministry of Health represented by Idris Galadima also made a presentation on the implementation of the 2024 federal health budget.

At the end of the summit, the following recommendations were made: “The immediate funding and take-off of the Vulnerable Group Fund should be done; huge percentage of Nigerians are poor and vulnerable and cannot be left out of health insurance coverage, and that the NHIA should liaise with other MDAs of the federal government to achieve this.

“A definite and clear roadmap for actualizing the compulsory health insurance should be developed and implemented. The compulsory nature of health insurance should not only be in the books, but should also be put into practice.

“Increased advocacy and awareness creation on health insurance should be done. The NHIA should strengthen monitoring and evaluation activities as it concerns health insurance service delivery to enrollees/beneficiaries at the health facilities.

“The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and traditional and religious leaders should be further engaged to promote and support sensitisation programmes and activities on health insurance at the sub-national Level.

“The Federal Ministry of Health should deploy adequate steps to ensure that it fully utilises the funds released to it for the delivery of healthcare services in Nigeria. The practice of returning huge unspent funds does not speak well of the ministry, hence this practice must not repeat itself in the utilisation of the 2024 health budget. Procurement and other policy reforms that would fast-track procurement processes should be done. This will increase the absorptive capacity for funds utilisation and enhance efficiency and service delivery.”

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