2018 Budget: Again, Nigeria falls short of AU health funding commitment

Written by on November 10, 2017

Nigeria has again ignored the commitment it made alongside other African countries 16 years ago on funding of health care services for its citizens.

Nigeria hosted the Heads of State of member countries of the African Union (AU) in 2001 who made the “Abuja Declaration” under which the leaders pledged to commit at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to improving their health sector.

The highest percentage since the declaration was in 2012 when 5.95% of the budget was allotted to health.

In the 2018 Budget proposal President Muhammadu Buhari presented on Tuesday to the National Assembly, he allocated N340.45 billion, representing 3.9 percent of the N8.6 trillion expenditure plan to the health sector.

The allocation is less than the 4.16 percent and 4.23 percent made to the health sector by the administration in the 2017 and 2016 budgets.

According to the World Health Organization said Nigeria is rated 187th out of 191 countries in terms of health care delivery and one-third of more than 700 health facilities have been destroyed in the country and about 3.7 million people are in need of health assistance.

The organization  said, Medical experts described as worrisome the recent figure released by international agencies which put Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate at 58,000 in 2015. This showed that Nigeria recorded the second highest maternal death rate in the world.

Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Healthcare Professionals, JOHESU, recently called off its nationwide strike which it embarked on September 20 to protest among other issues, salaries adjustments, promotion arrears, and improved work environment for its members.

according to Aremu Fatai, the director, Policy and Legislative Advocacy at Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health said that  The fact that the Abuja declaration was made in Nigeria, we should be taking the lead, but other smaller countries like Kenya, The Gambia, Rwanda, Lesotho, Swaziland are the ones making bold steps in terms of budgetary allocation for health

The director urged the National Assembly to use its power as it is constitutionally guaranteed to make necessarily adjustment to the appropriation bill and make sure that health gets a better deal in the budget.

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