By Dan-Maryam Zayamu
Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and critical stakeholders in the health sector have called on the President Muhammadu Buhari to compel the Federal Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance to, as a matter of urgency, publish the 2020, 2021 and 2022 COVID-19 and Health Security expenditure report.
They made the call as part of their recommendations at the end of a two-day retreat in Lagos.
The retreat which was championed by Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), was to review the draft national and states scorecards on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent and Elderly Health Plus Nutrition (RMNCAEH+N) and COVID-19 and Health Security Accountability.
The stakeholders also advocated for the strengthening of a national financing mechanism and multi-sectoral coordination and collaboration for health security including COVID-19 recovery as a response to public health emergencies.
They further recommended that in line with ‘One Health Strategy’, the Nigerian government should strengthen coordinated surveillance systems in the animal health and public health sectors for zoonotic diseases/pathogens identified as joint priorities.
Other recommendations of the stakeholders include the call on the Federal government to support states in strengthening state crisis communication team and community involvement for factual public information on COVID-19 that will increase uptake of vaccine; Federal government to ensure adequate COVID-19 vaccines made available to all the 36 states including Federal capital territory and support poor performing states to increase vaccine uptake and reduce hesitancy and support relevant government agencies for development of innovative ways to monitor/track allocation, donors support, loans and government releases for health security and COVID-19.
“It is worrisome that 60 percent of infectious diseases come from zoonotic sources. It is also the source of 3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in humans.
“This calls for urgent attention by the federal government to ensure the availability of coordinated surveillance systems in the animal and public health sectors for zoonotic diseases/ pathogens,” says Dr. Mohammed Abbas, Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Bayero University, Kano.
The COVID-19 and health security accountability scorecard was developed through adaptation of selected indicators from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Joint External Evaluation (JEE) tool for evaluation of International Health Regulation (IHR) 2nd edition, review and validation of government documents including approved budget and presentations, review of COVID-19 related government online dashboards, advocacy/retreat meetings with agencies, CSOs, media and young people.
The scorecard was developed to report Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) review on Nigeria`s capacity on preparedness and response to health security and COVID-19.
It also serves as an evidence tool to be used by all stakeholders including CSOs, media, advocates, young people and development partners to strategically influence actions that mobilize resources, promote prudent spending, transparency and accountability of COVID-19 health security funds.