LAGOS, Nigeria (25 April 2016) – A coalition of civil society organisations has launched a campaign to amplify Nigerian citizens’ demands that the government fulfil its promises and save the health system by funding the 2014 National Health Act and by allocating 15% of the national budget to health.
Anti-poverty organisation ONE and its partners, including Nigeria Health Watch, the Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria, Africa-Dev, the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre and the Centre for the Right to Health are calling for improved access to lifesaving health services for all Nigerians.
15 years ago today, all African governments made a commitment in Abuja to increase health spending to 15% of their national budget. To address the health crises Nigeria is facing, the coalition today launched a new public health campaign, calling on the Nigerian government to keep the promise to increase funding for health care.
Successive governments have failed to deliver on the Abuja commitment and Nigerians – particularly women and children – continue to die from treatable and preventable diseases.
The historic Abuja declaration has never been met by Nigerian policy-makers – only 4.37% is allocated to health in the 2016 Appropriation Bill – and the recent National Health Act has not yet been funded nor fully implemented.
“We are all hopeful for change,” says Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu of NHW. “But as responsible citizens, we must learn how to hold our governments accountable for the promised change.”
Fulfilling the Abuja promise will make a difference for millions of Nigerians who die needlessly from lack of access to basic healthcare.
“It’s hard to imagine that in our beautiful country, millions of Nigerians from Lagos to Wawa, from Sokoto to Yola, die preventable deaths every year because of poor investment in the health sector” says Waje, top Nigerian recording artist and ONE’s Strong Girl campaign activist. I am asking all Nigerians to join us in calling the implementation of these life-saving plans and promises, starting with the 2017 budget. This is not beyond Nigeria, I know it is doable and we need to support government in rolling out those plans”.
Despite being Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria spends relatively little on the health of its citizens and is facing both a health and a nutrition crisis, as women and children continue to die from treatable and preventable diseases.
Nigeria’s health expenditure puts it in the bottom third of the ranking of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Out of 49 lower-middle income countries, only seven country governments spend less per capita than Nigeria does on health. In 2014 this figure stood at $55 per person – $31 dollars short of the minimum expenditure required to ensure proper health services
If fully implemented, the National Health Act could save the lives of over 3 million mothers, newborns and children under-5 by 2022.
“Nigeria has a large rural population and many of these people are impoverished. The Nigerian government owes welfare to her citizens especially in the area of health care delivery services,” says Dr Nkem Onyejizu, ONE Champion working in Kano state.
“It is also not news that there are also wide regional disparities in child health indicators in the North East and North West geopolitical zones of the country which have the worst child survival indices,” added Dr Onyejizu. “We laud the Nigerian government plan to build 10,000 PHCs across the country, but these must well planned, mapped and staffed to ensure success as well as development of a comprehensive community health insurance scheme.”
President Buhari and the Minister of Health last year reaffirmed their commitment to prioritising healthcare by agreeing to pursue the new Sustainable Development Goals. These goals present an opportunity for government to translate their commitment into time-bound and measurable outcomes to dramatically cut avoidable deaths of mothers, children and the marginalised. Now is the time for increased implementation of these important commitments.
“We urge President Buhari to keep his promise to increase the quantity and quality of funding to implement the National Health Act, and ensure all Nigeria’s children not only survive, but thrive,” says Mwambu Wanendeya, Africa Executive Director of the ONE Campaign.
ONE, Nigerian Health Watch, Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria, Afri-Dev, WARDC and partners are calling on the Government of Nigeria to:
- Provide additional funding of 1% of CRF promised for the Basic Care Provision Fund within the National Health Act and to do so within the 2017 budget and to set a timetable to achieve the Abuja Declaration commitment to allocate at least 15% of the annual budget to health by the end of the term of this government in 2019.
- Fund the implementation of the National Health Act starting in the 2017 budget and improve the implementation rate of allocated budgets to at least 80% by 2017.
- Allocate dedicated resources to benefit all Nigerian women and girls, particularly in the poorest and the most vulnerable areas.
- Increase transparency in the budget, and particularly in public health procurement processes by disclosing all procurement documents including signed contracts, bids analysis and names as well as award decisions and justifications. There must also be an improvement in the quality and quantity of data in health and poverty monitoring to measure health outcomes.
- Ensure that states allocate the 15% to the health budget and data is made available on health budgets allocated and implemented at both the state and federal levels to facilitate accountability to citizens.
- Step up funding for nutrition in the 2017 budget in line with the national nutrition strategy.
Key elements of the campaign will include:
Digital creative assets for online mobilization of citizens.
6 Nigerian music celebrities are supporting the campaign including Waje, D’Banj, Banky W, MI, Omawunmi and Yemi Alade.
Citizens’ participation dialogue on the 26th April in Abuja.
Letter writing and direct engagement with policy makers in the lead up to the 2017 budget formulation.
Dissemination of ONE’s report on federal expenditure on health in Nigeria to policy makers and stakeholders.
The petitions signed by Nigerian citizens will be delivered to policy makers at strategic moments leading up to the budget making process.
ONE is a global campaigning and advocacy organisation of more than 7 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. 2.3 million ONE members are Nigerian. Not politically partisan, we raise public awareness and press political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programmes. Its African members advocate at the African Union and in their countries to influence policy decisions.
To learn more, go to ONE.org.
To learn more about the civil society health coaliton go to herfon.org.ng