By Olalekan Obisesan, ONE Campaigns Intern
In 2016, our Make Naija Stronger campaign demonstrated the urgent need for increased public investments in healthcare. To continue our quest for improved health outcomes in Nigeria, we have partnered with Connected Development (CODE), an NGO that strives to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa.
Last October, CODE embarked on outreach missions to a number of rural communities across the six geo-political zones in Nigeria to promote our Make Naija Stronger campaign and track the impact funding from the 2016 health budget had on local communities. CODE visited Afia Nsit Urua Nko and Sekona to see how the budget funding appropriated to the rehabilitation of their health centre’s had been used.
Each health centre reported that they faced a lack of access to drugs and medical equipment. Workers and patients lamented that pregnant women and young children had to travel outside of the community to seek safe and adequate medical care. “We do not have drugs, we have always been buying drugs on our own most of which are expensive and we have to get out of Sekona to get them,” said Mrs. Suleiman Lyabo, the mother of a three-month old infant. After visiting and speaking with staff in Sekona and Afia Nsit Urua Nko it was clear that no rehabilitation projects were being carried out – in Afia Nsit Urua Nko no one had even heard of the rehabilitation plans.
From the budget tracking, it was clear that all of the communities visited by CODE had poor health facilities, but it was apparent that the poor conditions present in Afia Nsit Urua Nko and Sekona resulted from a lack of accountability, transparency and openness in governance. It was not clear how allocated funds had been used.
The 2017 Health budget should be implemented in a transparent way which ensures that communities benefit from the resources. It should be formulated to reflect the reality of the disease burden in the country. Systematic funding of the primary health care system that enables Nigeria to move towards universal health coverage should also drive investments in the health sector.