By Sola Ogundipe
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Olanrewaju Tejuoso has called for a minimum 15 per cent budgetary allocation to the Nigerian health sector in line with the recommendation of the 2001 Abuja Declaration.
Tejuosho who spoke in Abuja during the formal unveiling of the Jesu Marie Empowerment Foundation, JMEF, said if such allocation was approved, it would help in addressing the plethora of challenges within the sector.
He disclosed that the recently approved 1 per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, is a home grown declaration to support healthcare services in Nigeria.
Commending the objectives of JMEF, a non- governmental organisation with focus on health interventions, empowerment, education and immunisation, Tejuosho described the health of Nigerians as a major aspect of the present administration, stating that the challenges of the nation’s health sector could only be addressed by the people.
“For Nigeria to enjoy good healthcare system, at least 15 per cent budgetary allocation must go to the health sector. With the 1 per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, additional N57 billion was added to this year’s budget of the health sector, bringing it to 8 per cent of the total country’s budget for the 2018 fiscal year,” he noted.
Earlier, in her opening remarks, President/Founder of the Foundation, Dr Rukevwe Ugwumba, said communities in Ughelli North, Ughelli South, Udu and Uvwie have been selected for the pilot scheme of the programme, an exercise planned for eight days in the localities.“Ugwumba, a one time Special Adviser on Health Matters to former Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, said the health intervention programmes are designed to prevent diseases, improve health and promote the lives of Nigerians.
“JMEF will encourage youths, women and children to take charge of their lives by addressing their situations and take necessary actions to improve their access to resources and transform their consciousness through their beliefs, values and attitude towards life and conduct relevant skills acquisition workshops.
“Our programmess and strategies are designed to reach people outside the traditional healthcare setting and hard to reach places,” Ugwumba said. “She emphasised that improving access to education has been on the mainstream development agenda for developing nations, largely because of the poverty reduction potential that education offers, maintaining that the foundation is also active in immunisation programmes by distributing vaccines to people who cannot afford it.“ The guest speaker, Prof. Rotimi Jaiyesimi, a London based Medical Doctor, who also commended Dr Rukevwe Ugwumba for her efforts in developing the local communities, said one must be healthy to enjoy a quality life and challenged government to do more in providing quality healthcare to the people.
The event was attended by a host of dignitaries including Dr Francis Faduyile and Prof. Mike Ogirima, present and immediate past presidents, Nigeria Medical Association, respectively. Others are Dr Joyce Barber and Dr Euphemia Ngozi Ali – the National President and Delta State Chapter President of the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria,MWAN, respectively.