President Muhammad Buhari
President Muhammad Buhari

‘Why FG should prioritise release of funds for capital projects in health sector’

The Partnership for Advocacy on Child and Family Health has tasked the Nigerian government to prioritise release of funds for capital projects in the health sector.

This was said as the 2020 proposed appropriation bill was presented to the National Assembly by President Buhari.

The Partnership for Advocacy on Child & Family Health (PACFaH@Scale), a coalition of 23 Nigerian civil society organizations in a press release signed by Dr Habib Sadauki, the spokesman of the Coalition in Abuja, Nigeria and Hassan Aliyu Karofi a Communications Associate, called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to prioritise the health sector; to prioritise budgetary increases to this sector; prioritise timely releases, and to also prioritise the full release and ensure efficient and effective utilization of budgetary allocations to capital expenditure of the health sector.

The group stated that this will contribute to equipping; repairing; revamping and making fit for purpose the country’s overburdened and failing health infrastructure.

While the coalition praised the Federal government for the early submission of the 2020 budget to the National Assembly it raised concerns about the ability of the estimates to address the health needs of Nigeria’s almost 200 million-strong population. PACFaH@Scale also observed in the press release that over the last decade, the utilization of capital expenditure in the health sector has been poor, making it difficult for the country to achieve the objectives of such budgetary allocations.

“For example, in 2018, the capital allocation to the sector was N141.62 billion. However, the amount released was N21.62 billion, a mere 15.3 percent of the total capital expenditure for the health sector. More shocking is that of the amount released (N21.62 billion) only N13.35 billion or 9.4% was utilized. The sum of N8.27 billion had to be returned to the treasury. PACFaH@Scale drew only from official government sources in making this analysis.” the statement noted.

The PACFaH@Scale coalition also raised the red flag that this pattern of appropriation, non-release and return to the treasury of public funds meant for the health sector has been happening over the past years. It is not new to this current government.
The statement further said

“For instance, in 2012 the total capital allocation to the health sector was N60.92 billion, out of which only N45 billion was released. Of the N45 billion released only N33.68 billion, was spent. So that as much as N11.32 billion had to be returned to the treasury at the end of 2012. From 2009 to 2018, the story has not changed because the country’s budget lifecycle did not allow for proper utilization of budgetary allocations to the health sector. In some cases, capital projects are not properly executed.”

“We call to the public’s attention the fact that despite the Federal Government’s signing of the Abuja Declaration in 2001 promising to spend 15% of the annual budget on the health sector, NO GOVERNMENT has achieved more than 6%. The situation is the same at the state level, with only one state government actually appropriating 15% of the state’s budget to the health sector in 2016 but failing to release less than 5% of this budget.”

“We are all well aware of the implication of the underfunding of the health sector. Doctors, Nurses and CHEWS with no equipment and supplies to work with get frustrated and will look outside overseas for a more enabling professional environment; Federal facilities with sub-optimal standards will set a bad example for states governments being called up to implement the Primary Health Care Under One Roof Policy; stock-outs of essential medicines; breakdowns and non-functional diagnostic equipment; and ultimately a deathblow to Nigeria’s quest for Universal Health Coverage. This is our present situation – it should not be our future.”

“PACFaH@Scale, took note of the recent pronouncements of commitment made by the Federal Ministers of Health, Dr Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire, and Senator Adeleke Olurunnimbe Mamora, to improve the health sector and noted that while we will be shadowing and tracking the performance of the Ministers on making good their commitment, PACFaH@Scale extends a hand to help strengthen evidence-based health policy-making; and to improve leadership and efficient management in the health sector.”

“We, therefore, call on lawmakers to ensure early passage of an adequately funded health sector line within the annual budget and to discharge their constitutional responsibility of effective supervision of health sector budget implementation.”

The Nigerian government budgeted 46 billion Naira for capital projects in the health sector for the 2020 budget year.

By PRNigeria