The House of Representatives committees on appropriation and health, in partnership with Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, a non-governmental organisation, recently, organised a two-day retreat in Accra, Ghana, for their members on financing primary health care.
In his opening address, the executive director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said all hands must be on deck to ensure a better health care system, stressing that health remains a major challenge in the development of the economy.
According to him, a study conducted by CISLAC in 2013 shows that in Nigeria, one in 13 women dies during pregnancy or childbirth, and 12 per cent of children die before reaching the age of five. The study observes that every 10 minutes one woman dies from conditions associated with childbirth.
Speaking further, Rafsanjani stated that child spacing had direct impact on the health of the family and the economy of a nation as a whole, with tendency to mitigate maternal and child deaths in the country. He said budgetary allocation to child spacing services in the context of the Nigeria family planning blueprint and implementation plans was an endemic challenge at all levels.
On National Health Bill, Rafsanjani commended the legislators for the bold step it took in 2014 to revive to long embattled National Health Bill and advocated for its passage into law by the National Assembly.
In his paper, titled, “Financing the Basic Health Care Provision Plan,” the director-general, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, noted that the overarching health sector goal for Nigeria, as for most nations, was Universal Health Coverage. And to achieve this goal, government in Nigeria needs to be spending about $86 per person in providing basic health services. But actual expenditure is under 50 per cent of this amount.
Akabueze stated, “The recommended public expenditure on health is five per cent of a nation’s Gross Domestic Product; Nigeria currently spends only about 1% of GDP (note however total government revenues less than 10 per cent of GDP).”
After the deliberations, the following observations and recommendations were made: It was observed that although primary health care remained the most acceptable approach to deliver effective, accessible and acceptable health services at all levels, effective implementation of PHC objectives had been hampered by lingering inadequate budgetary allocation.
Disbursement Committee to ensure appropriate tracking, monitoring and effective management of the 1% statutory allocation to health and address inherent problems of counterpart funding to the state governments; strengthening legislative oversight in primary health care financing through legislative-executive collaboration; and creation of synergies to promote transparency and accountability in the management of funds for the primary health care system.
CISLAC is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to strengthening the link between civil society and the legislature through advocacy and capacity building for civil society groups and policy makers on legislative processes and governance issues.