By Hassan Zaggi
The Commissioners of Health in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), have given the outgoing 8th National Assembly a pat on the back for what they described as its boldness in approving the one percent Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for the health sector.
The Chairman, Nigeria Health Commissioners’ Forum, Dr. Mustapha Mohammed Jibril, stated this at an event in honour of the Senate Committee Chairman on health, Lanre Tejuoso and the Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Health, Muhammad Usman, in Abuja, yesterday.
The event was with the theme: The 8th Assembly and Nigeria’s health sector: Reviewing progress, looking forward.
Dr. Jibril noted that the approval of the one percent Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) has given hope to millions of Nigerians that attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC) was possible and that it is realistic.
According to him: “Today, the promise of UHC for millions of Nigerians has become even more realistic because the 8th National Assembly had the courage to walk the talk by appropriating one percent of the nation’s consolidated revenue fund (CRF) as provided for in the Act.
“So, I want to thank Sen. Olanrewaju Tejuosho, Hon. Muhammad Usman and their other patriotic colleagues for making this giant stride towards accelerating Nigeria’s progress to UHC, in addition to other legislative endeavours.”
Dr. Jibril who is the Niger State Commissioner for Health, expressed the commitment of his group to the strengthening of policy cooperation and coordination in order to ensure that legislative-executive synergy in the health sector percolates down to the states.
This, he, reiterated, “is even more critical given that the bulk of the health interventions and activities that will see Nigeria out of the woods take place at the state levels.”
Speaking, the Chairman, National Advocates for Health (NA4H), Prof. Oladapo Ladipo, called on the National Assembly to review upward the health budget, arguing that: “Consistently, over the last 10 years, health budget as a percentage of the total national budget lingers between 4-6 percent including this year (2019).”
He also advocated that the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) be captured as statutory transfer as the National Health Act prescribed.
“I call on the National Assembly to look into these 2 items as a matter of emergency this year and beyond and institute corrective measures because UHC and qualitative health care require adequate funding,” he appealed.
On his part, Dr. Gafar Olawode, commended the legislators, insisting that, “the legislators have done a lot, what is even greater is the platform they have put in place for continuity.”
He regretted that before now, “we hardly take advantage of this huge opportunity because of the disconnect between the parliamentarians and stakeholders.
“Some years back, a group of stakeholders came together and said we need to harness and align the statutory function to achieve UHC for Nigerians, so the journey started.
“From day one, Senator Tejuoso subscribed to the idea together with Hon. Usman. Immediately in 2017, July, he conveyed a powerful summit, perhaps, may be, the largest gathering of law makers to discuss health issues in Nigeria.”
In his response, the Senate Committee Chairman on Health, Senator Lanre Tejuoso, thanked the organizers of the event, describing it as unusual for law makers to be appreciated without their prompting.
He called on stakeholders in the health sector to carry along other government officials and ministries, especially the ministry of finance and budget for them to succeed in the years ahead.
“There are many ways to kill the cat, you need to really direct the interest of the people in power and authority to the real and natural reasons as to why they should do what they are supposed to do,” he stressed.
Earlier, Dr. Aminu Magashi, applauded all stakeholders who supported the law makers to achieve a lot in the past few years.
He, therefore, called for concerted efforts by the stakeholders so that Nigeria will attain the Abuja Declaration and other commitments that have been signed by the federal government.
Dr. Magashi further advised the stakeholders to remain united and meet regularly to plan on the way forward for the health sector.
“The 9th Assembly will soon be inaugurated, there is not going to be any honey moon for them, we need to rise up together and engage them meaningfully and start preparing for the task ahead.”