Demand accountability in spending
By Chioma Obinna
President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, Pharm Sam Ohunabunwa on Wednesday decried the current 5 per cent budgetary allocation to the health sector, stressing that citizens health should be a priority.
Ohuabunwa while addressing journalists in Lagos on the PSN forthcoming national conference holding in Port Harcourt, Rivers State with the theme: “COVID-19 Lessons:
Broadening/Strengthening the Nigerian Pharmaceutical/ Health Sector” said current budget of about 5 percent as against recommended 15 percent and low budget performance should be jettisoned.
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Ohuabunwa, who further demanded accountability in spending the allocated funds, noted that the impact of COVID-19 on human health has been severe with an increasing number of fatalities. He argued that achieving a quality health care delivery requires adequate funding and proper monitoring of the fund.
Noting that the poor budgetary allocation to the health sector was unacceptable, he said health is the most critical of all sectors and shouldn’t be handled with levity.
“Government should also be mindful about how the 5 percent allocation is spent. We need to cut down on costs. It is sad that every contract the government awards is loaded with one thing or the other. We need to be more efficient and change our procurement mechanism.
“It must be noted that these problems did not start today. One of the best ways to tackle corruption is to be proactive by reducing the poverty rate in Nigeria. I have travelled across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and I have seen how people are suffering.
Ohuabunwa further demanded accountability on how the money released by the government is spent for the benefit of all Nigerians, especially for the purpose which is budgeted for.
Lending his weight to the Federal government’s plan for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, he said the vaccines are safe, effective and protective.
“COVID-19 vaccines are safe. PSN position is that everybody should get vaccinated. I suggest that vaccines should be made mandatory. I have been practising that in my home and my company.
“But of utmost importance is the need for the government to intensify efforts to enlighten Nigerians to maintain personal hygiene, particularly, undertaking mass health education at the grassroots level.
He charged organisations and individuals to support the government as it grapples with the challenges associated with the pandemic.
“The health of Nigerians should be a priority. The Nigeria health care system could have succumbed to pressure if we had been hit as hard as the western world. The negligence of the primary health care structure over the years would have thrown full-blown repercussions. Community pharmacies should be officially recognised as primary health care centres as it is the world best practice.”
On the lined-up activities for the programme beginning from November 1 to November 6, 2021, the Chairman, Local Organisation Committee, Pharm. Chris Ehimien said that about 4000 delegates were expected at the event.
He announced that over 100 pharmaceutical companies would be part of the event. He also assured that researchers, inventors and administrators would be on the ground to make it worthwhile for all that will attend.