- By Emejuiwe Victor
Nigeria’s 2017 budget was recently passed by the National Assembly. Unfortunately the 1 per cent annual grant from the Consolidated Revenue Fund that is supposed to be appropriated for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund is missing in the budget.
The Basic Health care Provision Fund as contained in section 11 of the National Health Acts makes provision for basic health packages that will benefit majority of Nigerians.
The fund provides that 50 per cent will be used to give Basic Minimum Health Packages to be enjoyed by citizens through the National Health Insurance Scheme. There is also provision for 20 per cent of the fund for vaccines and immunization which will benefit pregnant mothers and babies at primary health care centers.
The fund also provides that 15 per cent will be used to provide hospital equipment and facilities at the Primary Health Care Centers while 10 per cent is for the recruitment and training of personnel’s at the primary health care . The remaining 5 per cent goes for emergency medical treatments.
The law has been passed since 2014, yet the federal government has failed to implement it.
When the 2017 proposed budget was released, it was discovered that, this provision was not included in the proposed budget. This warranted several coalitions of CSOs working on health to converge and raised alarm at the door steps of key stakeholders in the Ministry of health, National Assembly and other members of the Federal Executive Council.
The implication of not including the provisions in the budget was properly raised and well understood by the stakeholders visited. The stakeholders were told that Nigerians are dying in their numbers as a result of poor funding in the health sector.
The rate of poverty occasioned by massive rise of unemployment will not permit majority of the citizens to get affordable health care if government does not fund the primary health care properly.
The stakeholders were also told that majority of women prefer to deliver at home because they cannot afford to cater for the cost of settling the hospital bills after delivery.
The children born by majority of poor Nigerians need to be immunized and vaccinated and yet the costs of paying for these vaccines are very high. Part of the message relayed to the stakeholders were that, they have an opportunity of correcting the error of not including the one percent into the proposed budget by ensuring that it is included during the legislative consideration of the budget. A calculation of what sums up one percent of the CRF fund was done and it amounted to N43billion.
The CSOs drew the attention of the stakeholders that this amount is even still too small to cater for the needs of 70 per cent of poor Nigerians who utilize primary health care services, but considering the state of our economy, they were encouraged to add it to the already proposed N45billion earmarked for health capital budget, but also ensure that the CRF goes strictly for primary health care.
Before leaving the presence of these stakeholders, in the Ministry of Health, Appropriation Committees at both Senate and House of Rep, Budget Office of the Federation, Ministry of Finance, their attention was also drawn to the fact that, if they failed to include the 1 per cent CRF for the implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund they will be guilty of committing Murder.
They were reminded that the primary duties, responsibilities and obligation of government as guaranteed in the 1999 constitution is to provide for the welfare of the people. They were also reminded that the right to health of our mothers and children is also a right to life which has been guaranteed by creation and the constitution.
They were categorically told that it is not fair for a woman to die while trying to bring life, and appeal to them was made. The appeal was that allocating 1 per cent CRF for BHCPF is tantamount to allocating 1 per cent for life.
The Stakeholders having listened to the points raised by the health stakeholders, agreed to the fact that the lives of women and children is paramount and has to be protected, and they promised to include it in the budget.
The budget has been passed, but the 1 per cent for life is missing. Another day light robbery has been committed against Nigerians. The signed budget without the #1%4life is a betrayal from the elected representatives who are supposed to be passionate about the life of our Mothers and children.
Accepting the signed budget the way it is means an endorsement for more life’s to be lost. We must demand from the executive that, as the budget gets back to it, the executive should include the #1%4life.
The campaign has started and we must all join the campaign until the 1 per cent of the CRF is given to save the lives of Nigerians.
- Emejuiwe is Program Officer (Good Governance) at the Centre for Social Justice, Abuja.