By Erezi Efeunu
THE sharp decrease in the amount appropriated for the health sector in the 2017 Lagos State budget proposal, has been greeted with mixed reactions from Civil Society members in the State.
Expressing shock and concern over the drop in the amount allocated to health from N64 billion (9.76 per cent of the budget in 2016), to N57.29 billion (7.05 percent in 2017), they have called for urgent review of the proposal.
It would be recalled that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had in December, presented the 2017 Lagos State budget proposal of N813 billion to the State House of Assembly. Although the entire budget increased by N150 billion when compared to the 2016 budget of N662.6bn, the health budget reduced by 2.61 per cent, a far cry from the targeted 15 percent health budget pledge of the Abuja Declaration made in 2001 by African Heads of State.
Reacting to the development a member of the Steering Committee of the Lagos State Civil Society Partnership, LASCOP, a forum of CSO networks, Barrister Ayo Adebusoye, expressed dismay over the actual decrease of the health budget in 2017.
His words: “This gives the unfortunate impression that health is not being prioritized in the state – especially when you contrast this with a less financially endowed state like Bauchi State which allocated a whooping 16 per cent of its entire 2017 budget to the health sector.
“There are critical areas that needs to be budgeted for; areas that have to do with maternal and new born health (MNH).
For instance, we need an increase in family planning consumable budget, to make sure it’s free so that there can be an increase in uptake in order to meet the family planning target blue print”, he said.
As the budget is awaiting approval, the LASCOP member called on the Lagos State government to urgently review it or create a supplementary budget for maternal and newborn health issues.
Problem of high medical bills
Governor Ambode was urged to fulfil his promise to fully implement the community health insurance scheme which he said will begin in the first quarter of this year.
In his argument, Adebusoye said implementation of the health insurance scheme would help alleviate problem of high medical bills perpetuated by the current out-of-pocket payments for health services in the state,
He also called government attention to the death of adequate midwives and qualified doctors. According to evidence from the scorecard, there are insufficient midwives and qualified doctors at health facilities in the State.