By Tobias Lengtnan Dapam
The Partnership for Advocacy on Child & Family Health (PACFaH@Scale), a coalition of 23 Nigerian civil society organizations, has called on the Federal Government to prioritize budgetary increase, timely releases to the health sector.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja during a press conference, the spokesperson of the coalition, Dr. Habib Sadauki, said the coalition also want the full release, efficient and effective utilization of budgetary allocations to capital expenditure of the health sector.
“This will contribute to equipping, repairing and revamping the country’s overburdened and failing health infrastructure”.
While praising the Federal government for the early submission of the 2020 budget to the National Assembly, the coalition raised concerns about the ability of the estimates to address the health needs of Nigeria’s almost 200 million-strong population.
PACFaH@Scale observed that over the last decade, the utilization of capital expenditure in the health sector has been poor, making it difficult for the country to achieve the objectives of such budgetary allocations. “For example, in 2018, the capital allocation to the sector was N141.62 billion. However, the amount released was N21.62 billion, a mere 15.3 percent of the total capital expenditure for the health sector.
“More shocking is that of the amount released (N21.62 billion) only N13.35 billion or 9.4% was utilized. The sum of N8.27 billion had to be returned to the treasury. PACFaH@Scale drew only from official government sources in making this analysis. The PACFaH@Scale coalition raised the red flag that this pattern of appropriation, non-release and return to the treasury of public funds meant for the health sector has been happening over the past years. It is not new to this current government.
“For instance, in 2012 the total capital allocation to the health sector was N60.92 billion, out of which only N45 billion was released. Of the N45 billion released only N33.68 billion, was spent, so that as much as N11.32 billion had to be returned to the treasury at the end of 2012. From 2009 to 2018, the story has not changed because the country’s budget lifecycle did not allow for proper utilization of budgetary allocations to the health sector. In some cases, capital projects are not properly executed”.
The coalition further called the public’s attention on the fact that despite the Federal Government’s signing of the Abuja Declaration in 2001 promising to spend 15% of the annual budget on the health sector, NO GOVERNMENT has achieved more than 6%. The situation is the same at the state level, with only one state government actually appropriating 15% of the state’s budget to the health sector in 2016 but failing to release less than 5% of this budget.
“We are all well aware of the implication of the underfunding of the health sector. Doctors, Nurses and CHEWS with no equipment and supplies to work with get frustrated and will look outside overseas for a more enabling professional environment; Federal facilities with sub-optimal standards will set a bad example for states governments being called up to implement the Primary Health Care Under One Roof Policy; stock-outs of essential medicines; breakdowns and non-functional diagnostic equipment; and ultimately a deathblow to Nigeria’s quest for Universal Health Coverage. This is our present situation – it should not be our future”.