34 states failed to meet 15% health funding benchmark between 2020, 2022, says report
With exception of Kaduna and Sokoto, 34 other states failed to meet the 15 per cent adequate health funding benchmark between 2020 and 2022, according to a new health report released, yesterday, by The ONE Campaign.
The report, titled: ‘Post-Pandemic Health Financing by State Governments in Nigeria 2020 to 2022,’ found that the country’s health budget, as percentage of total budget, is declining and that public health allocations (by state governments per person) have fallen from $10.8 per person in 2020 to $8.5 per person in 2022.
It noted that federal and several state governments continue to fall short of the 15 percent continental health funding benchmark for African countries, despite threats of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare challenges and poor health outcomes in the country.
In 2001, the heads of state of African Union countries met in Abuja and pledged to devote, at least, 15 per cent of their yearly budgets to improving the health sector. But two decades after the Abuja Declaration, Nigeria still struggles to meet this goal.
The report provides an in-depth analysis of sub-national and federal government health expenditure trends, revealing that while the combined budgetary allocations of all 36 states increased by 12.8 per cent between 2020 and 2022, in real terms, the health sector received less funding in 2022 than in 2020, when adjusted for inflation.
The report also reveals that the proportion of total budgets allocated to health by most state governments is on a downward trend, reflecting the quality of healthcare delivery in the country.
It noted that the COVID-19 pandemic also exposed the challenges in Nigeria’s healthcare system, with stakeholders and many Nigerians hoping it will be the game-changer that finally motivates governments, at all levels, to prioritise healthcare, commit more funds to revitalise the sector, drive improved health outcomes and protect the masses from future health emergencies.
The findings, however, show a deviation from this expectation, with more than 10 state governments in Nigeria reducing their fiscal allocations to healthcare, since the pandemic hit in 2020, putting a strain on an already-stressed sector.
Nigeria Country Director at The ONE Campaign, Stanley Achonu, said: “Nigeria’s health indicators are reportedly some of the worst in Africa. COVID-19 has exposed additional gaps in the country’s healthcare system and has shown why the sector requires ambitious strategies and adequate funding to serve the masses, particularly the poor and most vulnerable in the society.
“It is, therefore, extremely worrisome that some state governments are slashing their yearly allocations to health when they should be striving to meet the Abuja Declaration’s 15 per cent funding benchmark.
“As the 2023 budget season approaches, governments must prioritise health care and allocate a significant portion of their budget to improving healthcare delivery. Adequate disbursements should follow these allocations to finance health infrastructure and programmes.”