By Hassan Zaggi
The National Advocates for Health (NA4H) has appealed to the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, released in full, the over 100 billion naira Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) for 2018 and 2019.
Speaking at the media briefing and the formal launch of 2018 BHCPF and Global Finance Facility (GFF) performance scorecard in Abuja, the Lead of the NA4H, Prof. Prof Oladapo Ladipo, said the immediate release of the fund in full will enable the state governments begin its implementation in order to improve the health of mothers and children.
The NA4H was established in 2017. It is a 26- member policy and advocacy think-tank comprising of distinguished individuals from diverse professional backgrounds committed to influencing national and state level health financing policies and programes.
The 55.15 BHCPF was included in the budgets of 2018 and 2019, but the monies are yet to be released by the federal government.
The group also called on the state governments to, as a matter of priority, ensure the judicious used of the funds when they are eventually released by the federal government.
“The president is called upon to direct his Minister of Finance to release the entire N55.15 billion of the 2018 BHCPF to ensure its full take-off and disbursement to all the states
“In 2019, we call on the federal government to fully release 100% of the BHCPF and to disburse it timely to all the 36 states plus FCT in line with the provision of the law and its operational manual.
“The state governors should ensure the judicious use of the BHCPF for what it is meant for in addressing critical health needs of their populace and the civil society and media to step up advocacy to political actors and policy makers to demand for greater investment and accountability in health in 2019,” Prof. Ladipo appealed.
The group also called on the federal government to increase the 2019 budget for health from its traditional 4 per cent to at least, 7.5 per cent of the national budget.
“The 2019 health budget estimates should be increased from 4% to at least 7.5% and the National Assembly to strengthen their oversight function so that Nigerian government will improve budget performance,” he stressed.
NA4H, however, called on the federal government to, as a priority, constitutionally ensure that funding for health is captured under the exclusive or statutory list and that health should be among the top three priority of both the local, state and the federal governments in Nigeria.
While calling on the federal government to provide the enabling environment for medical practitioners to practice in Nigeria in order to avoid brain drain in the health sector, Prof. Ladipo, urged the Federal Government to “invest in continuing professional development of health workers as well as improve the working environment and remuneration in an effort to reduce the brain drain and medical tourism.
“We also call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to improve health literacy and increase investment in disease prevention rather than cure.”
He, however, applauded the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole and Senator Olanrewaju Tejuoso- the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, for their tireless efforts in mobilizing support and achieving increased commitments for national and international funding in an effort to improve the quality of health care services as well as promoting Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Speaking, a member of the NA4H, Dr. Aminu Magashi, disclosed that in December last year, 25 per cent of N55.15 billion BHCPF for 2018 was officially approved for released, but that it was yet to be released.
“It means that there is more money that we need to push for the government release again. The government needs to release the remaining money so that the state governments will start the implementation of the vulnerable group programmes under the minimum health care package, he noted.