The Partnership Advocacy for Child and Family Health, PACFaH, wants journalists in Nigeria to actively report issues surrounding the health budget and finance.
Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria, HERFON, Programme Officer on PACFaH project, Ms. Aanu’ Rotimi, told members of the Health Writers Association of Nigeria, HEWAN, during a symposium in Lagos recently, that regular reports would ensure deliberations on the health budget are kept on the front burner, and ensure government meets commitments towards adequate funding of the health sector.
In her presentation on the “ Role of Media In Advocating For Increased Health Sector Budget in Nigeria” during a symposium organised by HEWAN in Lagos, Rotimi stated that the media’s power in influencing opinions and behavior as well as ability to inspire public interest through creating awareness around respective issues has a great role to play in ensuring that government adequately finance the healthcare sector.
“Over the years, evidence has shown that media plays a vital role in mobilising people for national development. It is the connection between the people and government. Advocating for improved health outcomes is a role for all stakeholders in which health journalists are critical stakeholders.
“It is interesting to note the interplay of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors that determines what good health is all about. Appropriate allocation, prompt release and value for money utilisation of health funds are important, and not just mere reduction in MMR, U5MR or IMR, which although are expected ultimate results, but can be transient till an assured funding, much more transparent utilisation and ownership are available.”
She urged the media to remind government to honour various commitments on health financing, such as the Abuja Declaration that stated that 15 per cent of the country’s annual budget must be allocated to health, among others.
Rotimi argued that challenges of health finance reporting in Nigeria include “limited investigation on health sector funding , inadequate reporting on the issue of health finance, media owner’s philosophy towards health reportage,limited experts among others.