Stakeholders in health sector on Monday urged all tiers of government to allocate 15 per cent of annual budget to health sector to ensure Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all Nigerians.
The stakeholders made the call in Abuja at a road walk to commemorate the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day marked globally on Dec. 12 with the theme: “Act with ambition’’.
Dr Ben Anyene, the Chairman, National Immunisation Financing Task Team described the allocation of 4.5 per cent of annual national budget to health sector as grossly inadequate to cater for the health needs of the populace.
Anyene, who was the former Chairman Board of Trustee Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON), described the UHC initiative as health for all.
He however urged the government to give priority to its implementation through the existing legal framework like the National Health Act, among others.
Anyene , who described making policy without it implementation as baseless, said that giving full health to Nigerians would amount to preventing health challenges.
He said that the masses who were faced with diverse health challenge could not survive with such meagre allocation neither could the health of Nigerians.
Anyene noted that Nigeria in conjunction with other African Heads of State made the commitment 15 years ago.
According to him, the commitment to allocate 15 per cent of their annual budget to health has not been implemented by the Nigerian government till date.
He said that the implementation required government’s resolve, commitment and change of orientation.
He said that the implementation of the National Health Act would help in strengthening the health system and further curtail the menace of medical tourism.
“What we are saying is do the necessary things, these things are not undoable, if Rwanda among others can give UHC to their people, I do not see why Nigeria cannot give such to its people.
“You cannot fund the health of Nigerians with about 4.3 or 4.5% of National Health budget, it is not possible.
“If you realise that preventive health is better than cure and promotional health is even more interesting but these things have to be done because there is no point making these policies and putting them on the shelves,’’ Anyene said.
Dr Henry Ewunonu, the Representative of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) also urged the government to do everything possible to capture all provisions of National Health Act in next year’s budget.
Ewunonu emphasised that the Act stipulated that no Nigerian should suffer financial hardship just because of ill-health or wanting to access healthcare services.
He, however, attributed the health challenges faced by the populace on certain inactions or errors of omission and commission of those in power.
“Universal Health Coverage is about not incurring serious financial hardship by the sick, we want to get better; it is not our fault that people get sick instead it is because of certain inactions or errors of omission and commission of those in power.
“People have accident and become crippled for life because our roads are not good, people contact TB because our housing is poor, people suffer malnutrition because they cannot buy food.
“And the moment they now fall sick, they are sentenced to death, so we appeal to government to implement the legal instrument like the National Health Act in the 2017 budget.
“It provides that at least one per cent of the consolidated revenue fund be allocated to basic healthcare provision fund in the 2017 budget,’’ he said.