By Hassan Zaggi
Despite the sharp fall in oil prices and the crippling effect of Covid-19, the National Advocates for Health (NAH), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prioritise health by releasing its budget in full and on time, too.
The group made its position known in a statement signed by its chairman, Professor Oladapo Ladipo, in Abuja, Wednesday.
NAH further stressed the need for the federal government to treat health as a political agenda and sustain its funding in the midst of Coronavirus pandemic and crashed global oil price.
According to the group, “we are aware that implementation of the overall 2020 budget may suffer cuts and delay in disbursement as Coronavirus continues to impact on the global oil market which Nigerian government substantially relies on to finance its budget.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Finance Mrs Zainab Ahmed to prioritise health as a political agenda and ensure all its funding are released on time and in full.
“Mr. President should also ensure an effective implementation of the National Action Plan for Health Security (2018-2022). As the saying goes, health is wealth and Nigeria’s ability to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic and economic crises relies on its healthy population and healthy workforce.”
The group reminded the federal government on the commitment it has made by making the provision of N44.50 billion for Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), about N46 Billion allocated and approved for the Health Capital Budget with bulk of it committed to immunization (about N32 billion. This is a testimony we have prioritise the health and wellbeing of our children.), N1.5 billion for Expanded Midwives Service Scheme, N729million for Cancer Funds and N1.2billion for Family Planning Procurement which is an international commitment to FP2020.
It therefore, called for the full and timely release of these funds to the good of all Nigerians.
The NAH, however, applauded the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government and all its agencies in speedy response to the Coronavirus pandemic through intensifying screening, surveillance at the borders, setting up isolation centres for quarantine, release of emergency funds and establishing of the presidential task-force on Coronavirus control.