By Arinola Kolade & Uchechukwu Afamefune
The National Advocates for Health, NAH, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to increase health budget and ensure timely releases in 2018 as part of efforts to improve the country’s deteriorating health system.
The group committed to track the implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, HUWE, using an accountability framework after its one day Symposium on “Framing for Advocacy and Accountability for Effective Implementation of 2018 National Health Budget, Basic Health Care Provision Fund, BHCPF, and Global Financing Facility, GFF, in Abuja observed that the 2018 approved budget was about N9.12 trillion out of which N356 billion was earmarked for health which represents 3.9 percent.
The group chaired by Professor Dapo Ladipo notes that; “When compared to the 2017 health budget, which was an aggregate sum of N308.464 billion being 4.15 percent of the 2017 approved budget; the Federal Government commitment to the 2001 Abuja declaration of allocating at least 15 percent of total national budget to health was declining rather than improving.
They noted that the 2018 approved budget earmarked in the health capital expenditure the sum of N55.15 billion to the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, BHCPF.
Noting that the approval was commendable, they said: “We notice that it is not captured as a statutory transfer as provided by section 11 of the National Health Act, 2014.”
“Not committing the BHCPF as statutory, means if there is any paucity of funds within the year, it will suffer severe budget cuts and poor implementation as the section 28 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act has empower the Minister of Finance on budgetary matters as follows “Where, by the end of three months, after the enactment of the Appropriation Act, the Minister determines that the targeted revenues may be insufficient to fund the heads of expenditure in the Appropriation Act, the Minister shall, within the next 30 days of such determination, take appropriate measures to restrict further commitments and financial operations according to the criteria set-in the Fiscal Risk Appendix, such provisions shall not apply to Statutory or constitutional expenditure.”
“We call on the President to submit a supplementary health budget to the National Assembly in order to raise its percentage to at least 7.5 percent this year and in subsequent years raise the budget by 1 pecent point increase.
“The president is called upon to also direct his Minister of Finance to release the N55.15 billion at once earmarked for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund and when commencing 2019 budgetary process to ensure it is captured as a statutory transfer,”they added.