By Hassan Zaggi
A health sector advocacy group, the National Advocates for Health (NA4H), has called on the Federal Government to prioritize health as a political agenda and sustain its funding amid Coronavirus pandemic and crash in global oil price.
The NA4H, which is chaired by Professor Oladapo Ladipo, made the call in Abuja, on Wednesday.
It, however, applauded the Federal Government for approving the 2020 revised Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) guideline and appealed for its speedy, transparent, and accountable implementation.
The NA4H, therefore, called on the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to ensure speedy disbursement of the BHCPF to the 36 states and FCT for onward disbursement to the designated and accredited primary health care centers bank accounts for the implementation of essential health services.
The group recommended that: “The 2020 BHCPF allocated budget of N25 billion should be released at once from the treasury to the three gateways dedicated accounts: Federal Ministry of Health, NPHCDA and NHIS, respectively.
“NPHCDA and NHIS should ensure speedy disbursement of funds to the 36 states plus FCT for onward disbursement to the designated and accredited primary health care centers bank accounts and for the implementation of essential health services.
“The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) should be publishing every quarter the total amount of funds disbursed to the three gateways and the amount disbursed to all the 36 states plus FCT. This will deepen transparency, accountability, and efficiency.
“The state governors as agreed, to pay their 25% counterpart funding timely and to be captured in their annual approved budgets.
“State governors are called upon to honour their commitments and ensure PHC facilities are ready to roll out BHCPF.”
The group, however, called on state governors to ensure they have functioning state health insurance agencies backed by laws, to qualify them to access funds from the NHIS gateway.
The NA4H further noted that in the initial 2020 approved budget, the BHCPF, N44.50 billion was allocated and captured in the Part C of the 2020 approved budget ‘Statutory Transfers’, regretting that in the revised national budget assented in June 2020, the BHCPF only got N25 Billion.
This, it said, was a major setback to the implementation of the BHCPF.
It further queried what it described as the non-compliance with Abuja declaration of allocation of 15% of national revenue to the health sector, gross under-funding of the health sector which it said, is partly responsible for our dysfunctional health care system, medical tourism, and human capital flight to greener pastures by Health workers.
The group expressed concern that the revision of the BHCPF guidelines took too long, which it said, necessitated temporary suspension of funds disbursement and implementation at state level and primary health care centers.