The President of the Senate, Sen. Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday, said Senate would implement the 2014 National Health Act, especially the one per cent consolidated fund to enhance funding of Nigeria’s health system in 2018.
Saraki made the disclosure at the commemoration of 2017 World AIDS Day in Abuja.
Represented at the occasion by Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa, Senate Committee Chairman on Primary Health Care and infectious Diseases, Saraki said that the Act was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said “it stipulates that one per cent of consolidated fund be set aside for health care provision.”
He, however, added that the implementation of that part of the Act was not included in the proposed 2018 budget recently submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Senate for consideration and approval.
The Senate President said correction to the budget by the upper chamber should not be misconstrued as budget padding.
He added that the Senate was ready to synergise with the executive arm of government in ensuring proper funding of health care in 2018.
“We have resolved as a parliament that in 2018, we will implement the National Health Act 2014, which states that one per cent of consolidated revenue fund should go to the establishment of basic health funds.
“This will enable us fund all our health services, including HIV and AIDS,” he said.
He added that the immediate implementation of the Act, especially the clause on provision of basic healthcare funds was necessary, if the country would take ownership of the HIV and AIDS funding.
He advocated adequate financing of HIV and AIDS programmes by government at all levels.
Saraki said that Nigeria was a signatory to the Abuja declaration where African countries agreed to commit not less than 15 per cent of the national budget to health.
He called for adequate government support for local manufacturing of vaccines, antigens and other drugs for the treatment of HIV and AIDS.
In his remark, President Muhammadu Buhari reaffirmed the commitment of his government to universal coverage.
The President, who was represented by Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said Federal Government appreciated the achievements and challenges related to the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS.
He said “I assure you all that my government will give adequate attention to the effective implementation of policies that will promote sustainable development in Nigeria.
“Our commitment to universal health coverage for all Nigerians aligns with the African Union’s Road Map on Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity to address HIV and AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis in an integrated manner.
“In this vein, we are committed to the African Union goal to end AIDS and other infectious diseases by 2030.”
Prof. Isaac Adewole, the Minister of Health, said “no one should be denied the right to health; HIV care, prevention and treatment services are fundamental human rights.
“In order to scale up HIV and AIDS services over long term, significant financial and human resources must be mobilised.
“The strategies to be deployed included increased resource mobilisation and improved inefficiencies in service delivery,” Adewole said.
He said government was working hard to revise the trend and approach to the National HIV response programme.
According to him, more financial resources are being allocated for procurement of rapid test kits and anti-retroviral drugs to enable more HIV positive persons to be placed on treatment.
Earlier, Dr Sani Aliyu, the Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), said “If we must take our response to the next level, we must address the challenges related to our health system”.
The challenges, according to him, include the lack of infrastructure, commodities, data, quality human resource for health and funding.
He noted that the challenges constituted key barriers to universal access to HIV and AIDS services in Nigeria.