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Experts urge states to allocate 15 per cent of 2017 budget to health

By Emeka Anuforo, Abuja
27 October 2016   |   1:30 am
As the federal and state governments fine-tune work on draft budgets for 2017, a call has gone out for a 15 per cent allocation to the health sector. States have been urged to borrow from Bauchi State...
 Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar

Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar

As Bauchi makes history as first to meet Abuja Declaration

As the federal and state governments fine-tune work on draft budgets for 2017, a call has gone out for a 15 per cent allocation to the health sector. States have been urged to borrow from Bauchi State, which made history as the first Nigerian state to allocate 16.1 per cent of its 2016 state budget to the health sector.

The Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PACFaH) made the call at a Bauchi State Legislative Advocacy Retreat held in Abuja, yesterday.
Project Director of Community Health and Research Initiative (CHR), one of the civil society organizations under PACFaH, Dr. Aminu Magashi, stressed the benefits of allocating at least 15 per cent allocation to the health sector.

He called on the federal government to lead the way in this.His words: “We have made efforts in the 2016 budget process last year to advocate for Bauchi State government to allocate 15 per cent of the total allocation to the health sector, and that was done in January when the budget was passed. We are engaging them again and we are hoping that between now and December, the gain of 2016 should be sustained, that the government should again allocate at least 15 percent of the state budget to the health sector. We are asking that they not only allocate that percentage, we are asking them to increase fund release to improve budget performance and to increase transparency and accountability for whatever it is doing.

“We are also reaching out to Kano State, Kaduna, Niger, Narasarwa, Oyo and the other state under the PACFaH project under the same issue. We are engaging them to ensure adequate allocation to the health sector. At the national level, we are engaging the Ministry of Health, the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency. As we speak, only about 5 percent of the national budget was allocated to health in 2016.”

He went further: “In 2017, we are not necessarily asking for 15 percent. We are asking for a minimum of 10 percent as a commitment that the government is serious.“Indeed, we have seen tremendous momentum in the state government when they allocate 15 percent. We have seen also that the government has launched what they called the 5-point health, which is about innovative financing, increasing adequate support to immunization, and also maternal and newborn health.

“This is a model that every state in Nigeria should embrace. In 2017, we should celebrate 15 per cent Abuja target for health sector across the country.”
Commissioner of Health in Bauchi State, Dr. Alima Mukda, promised that the state was working towards sustaining the same moment in the 2017 budget, calling on other states to step up funding for health.Mukda stressed that since the percentage increase to the sector, the state had enjoyed more donor support and partnerships.

She said: “The demonstration of government commitment in the health sector in Bauchi State is cleat. From the moment the government came on board, it declared and allocated 16 per cent of the state budget to the health sector adhering to the Abuja declaration committing governments on the continent to 15 per cent of yearly budget allocation to the health sector.

“This has brought about a lot of achievements to us in Bauchi State. We have been able to carry out a number of laudable projects, especially in areas like nutrition, malaria control and routine immunization. We have recorded a lot of firsts with our immunization in terms of the amount that moves to the basket fund for the state for addressing polio emergency, addressing routine immunization as a whole.

“It has also brought about a lot of supports to the state. A lot of donors are interested to know that the state government is committed to the health sector, that it is doing a lot to help its own people. So, others are coming to support us. Those are some of the achievements that have come with the allocation of 16% of our state budget to health.”

She stressed that the purpose of the retreat was to at the 2016 budget performance and set similar targets for 2017.“We intend to sustain same level of, if not increase, for 2017,” she noted.

In April 2001, member countries of the African Union countries met in Abuja and pledged to set a target of allocating at least 15% of their annual budget to improve the health sector.