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Getting pregnant fast becoming a death sentence in Nigeria

FG budgets N55.19 trillion in 10 years, allocates only N2.51 trillion to health

By Clifford Ndujihe

BY the end of 2018, the Federal Government would have spent the sum of N55.19 trillion as budgets for 10 years, if the N8.612 trillion proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari for this year is approved by the National Assembly.

Of this hefty sum, only N2.51 trillion or 4.55 per cent was allocated to the Health sector. This is a far cry from the World Health Organisation, WHO’s recommended 13 per cent or the 15 per cent declared by the African Union in 2001 in Abuja, which Nigeria is a signatory to.

Over the years, budgetary allocations to Nigeria’s health sector have remained disappointingly and scandalously low in spite of the numerous challenges bedeviling the sector.

In 2009, a miserly N103.8 billion or 3.4 per cent of the N3.049 trillion budget was allocated to health. The trend continued in 2010 (see table) when only 3.14 per cent of the federal budget was voted for healthcare. A little rise in allocations to health was witnessed in 2011 (5.19 per cent), 2012 (5.73 per cent), 2013 (5.67 per cent), 2014 (5.33 per cent), and 2015 (5.08 per cent).

In the last three years, allocations to health have remained abysmally low. In 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari’s first full year in office, out of the N6.061 trillion budget, only about N250 billion or 4.13 per cent was voted for the health sector.

A similar scenario played out in 2017 when out of a N7.444 trillion appropriation, a paltry N308 billion or 4.13 per cent went to the health sector.

Except something happens, 2018 will be worse. Out of President Buhari’s proposed N8.612 trillion budget, an insignificant N340.45 billion or 3.95 per cent was voted for the health sector. It is worse when it is noted that not even the amount allocated is eventually released to the sector.

If the government had implemented the AU’s 15 per cent recommendation, the sum of N8.279 trillion (compared to N2.51 trillion) would have been allocated to the health sector in the last 10 years. The extra N4.769 trillion would have boosted the provision of healthcare facilities and fighting prevailing diseases like malaria.

Ill-equipped hospitals

It is therefore not surprising that Nigeria, the largest black nation, has one of the worst health indices in the world. Many public hospitals are mere consulting clinics with little or no equipment and poor facilities.

Last October, the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, complained of lack of drugs and equipment at Aso Rock Clinic, which provides medical services to the president, vice-president and their families, aides, members of staff of the State House and other entitled public servants and also serves as a prime training facility for house officers and other medical personnel.

“Few weeks ago, I was sick … they advised me to take the first flight out to London but I refused to go. I said I must be treated in Nigeria because there is a budget for an assigned clinic to take care of us. If the budget is N100 million, we need to know how the budget is spent. Along the line, I insisted they called Aso Clinic to find out if the x-ray machine was working. They said it was not working. They did not know that I was the one that was supposed to be in that hospital at that very time. I had to go to a hospital that was established by foreigners in and out 100 per cent,’’ she said.

If Aso Rock Clinic is so afflicted, what obtains in other government hospitals is left to the imagination.

Nigeria loses billions of naira to medical tourism

Last December, former Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, said that Nigeria was losing N175 billion annually to medical tourism. He spoke at the opening ceremony of the 2017 Faculty of Clinical Sciences 10th Faculty Week & Scientific Conference, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, themed: “Medical Tourism in Nigeria”. He said that the wasted fund was more than 50 per cent of the proposed N340.45 billion 2018 federal health budget.

Poor health indices

According to the Malaria Society of Nigeria, MSN, Nigeria has the highest number of malaria deaths in the world. ‘’With about 100 million malaria cases and about 300,000 deaths annually, Nigeria has the highest number of malaria casualties worldwide,’’ said MSN President, Dr Babajide Puddicombe, citing figures from the WHO.

Nigeria also has the highest Cancer death rate in Africa. The WHO said recently that ‘’cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and accounted for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer. In Nigeria, cancer leads to over 72,000 deaths per annum. This number is set to increase given that there are over 102,000 new cases of cancer every year.’’

Dangerous place to give birth

Chairman, Bill and Melinda Foundation, Bill Gates, Bill Gates, penultimate week, said that Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth.

Gates, who stated this at the Expanded National Economic Council presided over by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, said: “Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth with the fourth worst maternal mortality rate in the world ahead of only Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Chad. One in three Nigerian children is chronically malnourished.’’

Nigeria records 756,000 under-five deaths annually – Official

Indeed, the federal government said recently that the country records about 756,000 under five deaths annually.

Osarenoma Uwaifo, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, disclosed this at a two-day annual symposium on experience sharing on Integrated Community Case Management of Childhood illness (ICCM) in Abuja.

Mr. Osarenoma, who was represented by Bose Adeniran, Head, Child Health Division, said that the data was made known by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME).

According to him, Nigeria contributes 11 per cent of total global deaths of under-five, ranking second on the list of countries with burdens of child mortality.

He said one in every eight children born in Nigeria die before their fifth birthday.

He said that pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria represented an estimated 58 per cent of under-five deaths with malnutrition underlying about 50 per cent of them.

He said that majority of these childhood deaths can be prevented with high impact interventions and treated with very low-cost medicines which most of these children living in hard to reach areas do not have access to.

According to BudgiT, an online budget analyses media, every day, approximately 2,300 under-five-year-olds and 145 women of childbearing age die in Nigeria. These deaths are mostly preventable. About 50 per cent of maternal deaths in Nigeria is said to result from pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, obstetric haemorrhage and complications from unsafe abortion.

 


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