Physicians urge government to raise budget for sector
*Say one per cent consolidated revenue will solve country’s medical issues
The Kaduna State Chapter of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, (APHPN) said government can only demonstrate its commitment to health development by raising the budget on health.
As stipulated by the law of the Federal Republic, the physicians tasks government at all levels to set aside, one per cent of consolidated revenue fund for provision of basic health care, as it could solve myriads of health challenges bedeviling the nation.
In a statement jointly signed by Chairman of the association, Dr. Muhammed Sani Ibrahim and the secretary, Dr. Lawal Ahmadu, to commemorate the World Health Day, they said the unimpressive implementation of the National Health Act, despite its enactment since 2014 was responsible for avoidable illness and untimely deaths, stating that the challenge lies in the will for its full implementation.
According to the association, “The National Health Act 2014 provides a framework for the regulation, development and management of our national health system and sets standards for delivering health services in Nigeria.
“Some of the benefits of the Act include the provision of free basic health services for children under the age of five, pregnant women, the elderly and persons with disabilities irrespective of who they are or where.”
They added: “Additionally, the law bans senior public officers from using public funds to seek treatment abroad, especially for ailments that could be treated locally.
“Full implementation of this Act will ensure that the mandatory Social Health Insurance Scheme supported by the Act is made available.
“This in turn would reduce the tendency for individuals and families to be tipped into poverty by the very high cost incurred from out-of-pocket spending on health. However, more than three years after the enactment of this Act, over 70 per cent of health care spending in this country is still borne by direct out-of-pocket expenditure.”
“In Nigeria, most public hospitals are ill-equipped to handle disease outbreaks such as Lassa fever while private hospitals are expensive for the largely poor population. Presently, all the primary health care (PHC) centres in the country offer sub-optimal services due to poor funding, and misdistribution of healthcare workers.”
The association also lamented that Nigeria is yet to find a final solution to most of the health challenges in the country, like frequent outbreaks of Lassa fever, high maternal and child deaths, poor primary health facilities, poor health emergency responses and many others.
The physicians said this is happening because the Nigerian governments across all arms and tiers do not place priority on the provision of basic health care as claimed.
“Thus, government at the federal, state and local government levels and both executive and legislative arms must prioritize their spending, especially following the legislative declaration and commitment to support roll-out of UHC in the country by all legislators across the country sometime last year. “
They, however, said the Act when fully implemented, will facilitate the achievement of some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) especially SDG3: good health and well being for all by the year 2030.
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