Again, CHR raises alarm over govt’s refusal to release N55bn BHCF
…Says failure to track health funding expenditures worsens sector’s performances
The Community Health and Research Initiative (CHR) an NGO working towards the reduction of maternal/under-5 morbidity and mortality rates in the Northern part of Nigeria, has again raised the alarm over the federal government’s failure to release the N55 billion Basic Health Care Fund approved in the 2018 budget.
The fund came from one percent Consolidated Revenue Fund recommended by the National Health Act. It was the first time that portion of the Act would be implemented since it was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan in December 2014.
Apart from the government’s decision to hold on to the fund, CHR said a major problem with the nation’s health sector was lack of mechanism for tracking expenditures of funds from government, local and international donors.
CHR said recently in Abuja at a “Validation Meeting for the Motion Tracker” aimed at strengthening the fulfilment of the commitments of EWEC Global Strategy and FP2020, that efforts should be improved upon to ensure people in the nation, especially children and women, have access to quality health services.
Nigeria’s FP2020 and EWEC commitment initiative has been identified as the possessing immense potentials for advancing Nigeria’s drive toward reducing its very high maternal and infant mortality.
Addressing participants at the meeting, Deputy Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Health, Hon. Mohammad Usman, said health indices in country were poor and there was need for all hands to be on deck to improve maternal, new-born, child and adolescent health in the nation.
“This is one of the issues that are affecting our health sector in the country, so many funds has been allocated to the health sector including the financial, technical and material from a number of national and international agencies, but because of lack of an initiative like this to track the implementation, most of the funds are not channelled to the projects they are meant for…
“And every year, the government has come out with various policies and programmes which need mercenaries or tool of measuring the releases of funds, because except you monitor releases of you wouldn’t know what has really been pushed into the system. So, this tracker, which is new initiative, will help to really know where we are in terms of commitment on the side of the government.”
Speaking on state of health in the country, the lawmaker said there were many constraints, so many challenges. As far as I am concerned, the Federal Ministry of Health has not been doing very well because the only way you can really measure the performance of the Federal Ministry of Health is to what extent has health income improve? To what extent has the lives of Nigerian been saved? So, as long as people are dying, millions on the annual basis, what would you say? There has not been a meaningful achievement in the health system as far as I am concerned.
Project Advisor, Community Health and Research Initiative, Dr Aminu Magashi, said the meeting was to support the Nigerian government and the 36 governors track progress in addressing “family planning and also every woman, every child.
“What does that mean? It means that our annual health budget needs to be tracked every year from allocation, releases, disbursement and performance. We need to also track the basic health care provision fund.
“As we speak, last year, 55bilion was allocated for the basic health care provision fund. And, in the 2019 budget, 51billion is allocated. We have to track this money to know where it’s going and how it will impact on the lives of the people of Nigeria.
“From what we have tracked for far, the basic health care provision fund, 25 per cent of that money has been released to the Federal Ministry of Health to a dedicated CBN account, that money is still sitting in the account, it has not been disbursed to the state government and also to agencies that are supposed to deliver. It means the money is not useful for now, because of it still inside the account, so we are calling on the FG to hasten the disbursement and also ensure accountability of the spending of this funding.”