By Christiana Ekpa and Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Senate yesterday tasked the Federal Ministry of Health to as a matter of urgency, procure sufficient quantity of effective anti-malarial drugs and supply them free of charge to all public health facilities across the country.
The Senate also urged the federal and state governments to embark on massive mobilisation that will provide information to Nigerians on preventive and treatment measures.
It equally enjoined the government to increase the annual funding of ministry that would meet the “Abuja Declaration” by AU IN 2001 as well as ensure full implementation of the National Health Act 2014 and the one percent Consolidated Revenue Fund provision for the take up of the basic health care provision fund.
The demand came during the consideration of a Motion sponsored by Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano Central), on the alarming upsurge of Malaria in the country, with the Senate observing that 97% of Nigeria is at risk of malaria while the disease accounts for 60 percent of out-patient visits and 30 percent of hospitalizations of children under 5-years old around the country.
Presenting the lead debate on the motion, Kwankwaso noted with grave concerns that in recent times, the outbreak of malaria has exponentially increased in Nigeria, particularly, the northern region to an epidemic level.
The lawmakers also noted with concerns how ninety seven percent of Nigerian population is at risk of being infected with malaria, with fifty million people tested positive annually according to a report by the Nigerian Institute of medical Research.
“The disease has been adjudged to be the 3rd leading cause of death for children less than five years, taking the life of a child every two minutes. Now this data was even before the recent prevalence of outbreak of malaria parasite that has developed resistance to the first-line anti-malarial drugs in Nigeria.
“The lawmaker was worried that “poor funding has been one of the major challenges for health care delivery in Nigeria”. He added
Kwankwaso lamented that budgetary allocation for healthcare delivery has been on the decline since 2012, as against the 15 per cent recommended by the African Union during its meeting in 2001 tagged “The Abuja Declaration”.
He said the allocation for the health sector was 4.23 per cent in 2016 and 4.7 per cent in 2017 and 3.9 per cent in the 2018 proposed appropriation bill respectively.
According to him, the setting aside of a grant of not less than one per cent from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the basic health care in the country as recommended by the National Health Act 2014 has never been implemented.
Contributing, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP Abia North) stressed the need for the review of some health policies and laws with a view to ensuring that the people of the country keep their environment clean and safe for living.
He Specifically called for the reintroduction of sanitary inspectors to enforce hygienic environment, noting that keeping the environment clean at all times would lead to getting rid of mosquitoes that cause malaria.
He also decried the decline in annual budgetary provisions in the funding of the health sector over the few years, noting that increased funding , the sector would boost healthcare delivery service in the country.
In his comments, Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, stated that the Motion raised by Senator Kwankwaso, was genuine and germane, and that the malaria issue could be addressed with the implementation of the 2014 National Health Act.
“The issue of malaria and primary healthcare across the nation goes back to the issue of funding. We have a law that has been in place since 2014 which was passed by this chamber and up till now has not been implemented,” the Senate President said, “We must also work to ensure that the Appropriations Committee works to ensure that we meet the requirements of the National Health Act in the 2018 budget.”
The Senate also called for the enforcement of the African Union’s 2001 Abuja Declaration, that is aimed at ensuring increased funding for the Federal Ministry of Health, as well as ensuring the full implementation of the National Health Act.
Other prayers in the Motion urged the Federal Ministry of Health to effectively partner with states, local government authorities and development partners to scale up and streamline the coordination of the integrated vector management and control programmes across Nigeria.