The Proposed 2018 Budget: Is the Federal Government Committed to a Healthy Nation?

ABUJA, Nigeria – The recently presented proposed 2018 Budget Appropriation Bill by the President to the National Assembly on the 7th of November 2017 is an inadequate response from the Federal Government to the myriad of challenges facing the Nigerian health sector. Nigeria’s health sector is failing to meet the health needs of millions of Nigerians.

While the proposed allocation of N340.45 billion to the Federal Ministry of Health is an increase of 10.4% over the approved 2017 health budget, the statutory transfer for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund was not provided. This means that Nigerians will not get the basic minimum standard of care at their primary healthcare centers. According to the National Health Act 2014, all Nigerians shall be entitled to a basic minimum package of health services. Without this basic package of services, Nigerian mothers will continue to die at high rates in childbirth while others die from illnesses like diabetes, and the lack of emergency medical treatment for road traffic injuries.

In addition, the health budget decreased as a portion of the national budget. Within the proposed budget, the health ministry received 3.95% instead of 4.15% in the approved 2017 budget. According to the Abuja declaration, Nigeria committed to contributing 15% of the national budget for health. This downward trend is disappointing.

In September 2017, ONE along with 30 civil society organizations as part of the Healthcare Reform Coalition, signed an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to make a quantum leap investment into the health sector for the 2018 budget. The group urged the government to contribute at least 7.5% of the national budget towards health and demonstrate good faith in allocating the N50.8 billion towards the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), in line with the National Health Act 2014. The coalition further called on the Federal Government to strengthen open contracting practices in the health sector in order to ensure transparency and accountability in the health sector.

Serah Makka-Ugbabe, the ONE in Nigeria Country Director said in a statement released in Abuja: “The Nigerian health sector remains in crisis. In the last decade we have not seen appreciable enhancements to the quality of healthcare for Nigerians. Instead, we have observed a decline. How long will we continue accept such decay in the health sector? It is time for a step-change. It is time to ensure that all Nigerians have access to maternal, newborn, immunization, emergency and routine care at a minimum standard. The National Health Act, which we agreed to, specifies that “all Nigerians shall be entitled to a basic minimum package of health services”. How long will Nigerians die from preventable tragedies for want of pills and injections that cost a few Naira?”

In addition to more funds for healthcare, ONE also calls for greater transparency in the health sector by implementing Open Contracting Standards for the Ministry of Health and National Primary Health Care Development Agency.

Makka-Ugbabe added: “First and foremost, we must enhance transparency in the health sector. There must be visibility to ensure that the amount invested in health gets to the appropriate people. Nigeria is a major power in Africa, boasting immense potential for economic growth and global leadership. For our potential is to be reached, the country must increase investment in the health of its people. Nigeria loses too much productivity to preventable and easily treatable ailments. Making the appropriate investments in healthcare along with implementing transparent expenditure are crucial steps towards a more prosperous future for Nigeria. Unfortunately, the proposed 2018 budget falls well short of initiating these steps. Nigerians are calling on the National Assembly to fill this massive gap in healthcare funding by fully implementing the provisions of the 2014 National Health Act.”

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For more information, please contact Innocent Edache at [email protected] or +234 90 2176 5342

Note to editors:

ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organisation of over 8 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Nigeria accounts for 2.4 million members. 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. Read more at www.one.org.