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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Nigerian lawmakers, seeking expanded health budgeting, point at “bureaucracy” as obstacle

Nigerian legislators from the Senate and House Committees on Health, Appropriation, and National Planning who are attending a legislative retreat in Johannesburg, South Africa, on budgeting for health, remarked on Monday that bureaucracy is the key obstacle to implementing the mandatory 15 per cent budgetary allocation to the health sector.
The meeting, which theme is Legislative Retreat on Budgeting for Health, is holding at the Pan African Parliament in Midrand, Johannesburg as a joint initiative between the Nigerian Institute of Legislative Studies [NILS] and its south African counterpart. The Nigerian delegation is led by Ladi Hamalai, the Director General of NILS based in Abuja.
The African Union in its famous 2001 Abuja Declaration proposed a 15 per cent budget spending to the health sector as a condition to achieve a “universal and better healthcare services” in each country of the continent.
Emphasising the challenge of bureaucracy, Sonni Ogbuoji, deputy chairman of Nigeria’s Senate committee on Appropriation told PREMIUM TIMES at the Pan African Parliament venue of the programme, in Midrand, Johannesburg, that “We need to rejig and retool our implementation process so that we can get at least a fair measure of whatever a budgetary allocation that is given to health.”
Mr. Ogbuoji stressed that “If you say we are budgeting below the 15 per cent as recommended for health and our budget is say 8 per cent, we need to see 8 per cent on ground so we can tell ourselves that if we improve it to 10 per cent we shall get 10 per cent and if we now make it 15 it will be Eldorado”
Jones Onyereri, chairman of Nigerian House committee on banking and finance added, in a more optimistic tone, that while it behoves on Nigeria to respect the Abuja declaration on 15 per cent allocation to the health sector, the legislators are mindful of the enormous challenges the Nigerian economy is facing at the moment.
However, Mr. Onyereri believes that the House of Representatives will get close to the vision of the Abuja declaration in the 2017 appropriation, hinting that “I believe that this won’t be a waste of time,” in reference to the retreat with compatriots from South African countries.
Nigerian civic sector actors in the public health community have run a three-year aggressive advocacy led by the Partnership for advocacy in child and family health [PACFaH] in the believe that expanded and increased health sector appropriation in Nigeria will help enable a universal health coverage and efficient primary health delivery in the country.
Nigeria’s current health sector appropriation is 4.64 per cent of the annual budget, according to Nigeria Health Watch. This is 10 per cent lower than the budget cap recommended by the African Union in its famous 2001 Abuja Declaration.

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