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Nurse from secondary healthcare center educating the village on the outreach mission

#FundBasicHealthNG: Health Experts And Advocates In Nigeria Call For More Money And Action

Abuja, Nigeria: Stakeholders across the media and health sector gathered at a strategy session last week to galvanize media advocacy for the implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) of the National Health Act.

The National Health Act 2014 provides a framework for the regulation, development, and management of Nigeria’s 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 or where they are.

The strategy session, organized by the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), a Non-Governmental organization based in Abuja, aimed to agree on a coordinated social and conventional media campaign for the implementation of BHCPF.

The Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), is a minimum of 1% of consolidated federal government revenue and contributions from donor grants. With the establishment of the BHCPF, 50% of the fund according to the National Health Act “must be used to provide a basic minimum package of health services.

Forty-five percent for primary health care provisions – National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), which translates to 20% for provision of essential drugs, vaccines, etc. 15% for provision and maintenance of facilities, equipment and transport for eligible primary healthcare facilities; 10% for the development of Human Resources for Primary Health Care), and 5% for emergency health interventions.

In the 2018 budget, 57.15 billion naira was allocated for Basic Health Care Provision Fund by the Federal Ministry of Health.

On May 3, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari, tweeted (@MBuhari), quoting Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), as saying: “I welcome [the] Nigerian Senate’s endorsement and support, disclosed today by Senate President, of Aso Rock’s earlier determined policy to spend 1% of our budget on healthcare in line with the National Health Act.”

However, as of November 19th, 2018, none of the funds have been released.

Ensuring access to basic health care has been a reoccurring discussion amongst health practitioners in Nigeria. Experts in the industry argue that the government is doing little or nothing in funding the health sector.

According to the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN), Nigeria “has one of the highest infant and maternal deaths in the world, contributing more than 10% of global maternal deaths.”

This according to the association centers around the unimpressive implementation of the National Health Act despite its enactment since 2014.

Dr. Emmanuel Abanida, Senior Technical Advisor for PACFAH@Scale, and an expert in the health sector has called on the Federal Ministry of Health to provide guidelines on how the funds would be utilized. This, he opined would push the federal government into releasing the funds.

According to him, “If the grassroots community does not understand what the Act is, they can’t [demand it]. The Human Development Index will improve if everyone is healthy.

“The political will to make sure it happens can be stronger. We can’t continue running to Geneva, Paris, and New York, begging for money to treat our citizens.”

On his call to action, Dr. Abanida said: “Media organization should create a mass movement for Nigerians to demand money for their health.”

Ms. Chioma Agwuegbo, Program Manager for Reboot, who led the session on “finalizing key messages for identified target audience” engaged the participants on different channels to roll out media messages advocating for the release of funds for the basic health care.

To round the strategy session up, Hajia Abdul Abubakar, also of Reboot, took the participants through a “setting agenda in a coordinated strategic session.” Media practitioners registered their commitment to using their news platform to promote stories on basic health care and effective funding for the health sector. The hashtag, #FundBasicHealthNG was also unanimously adopted to amplify social media messages.

Ibrahim Olalekan is a media writer and specialist. His enormous task as journalist has earned him media space in some leading online newspapers. Aside being a seasoned journalist, Olalekan has keen interest in advocacy, rural development and politics. Olalekan is a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Lagos, and can be reach via: ibrahimolalekan001@yahoo.com or +2348101988313 and @lekanpaul

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