Health ministry pledges transparent implementation of BHCPF

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The Nigerian Ministry for Health says transparency and accountability would guide the implementation of the Basic Health Care Programme Fund (BHCPF) in the country.

Dr Emmanuel Meribole, Director, Health Planning, Research and Statistics, in the ministry, said this on Sunday in Abuja.

Meribole said the ministry had instituted a strict accountability mechanism among the different stakeholders responsible for implementing the BHCPF.

According to him, the ministry recognises the need for community involvement and ownership which are critical to the provision of quality healthcare for the poor and vulnerable in the society.

“Accountability will be ensured through a transparent method of allocating resources from the Federal Government through the Agencies to the States using the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system. The resources would be routed from state agencies to commercial bank accounts of the facilities chosen by the states based on the principle of one primary health care facility per geo-political ward. These facilities, which are mainly public health facilities, receive funding through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), to the State Primary Health Care Agency, (SPHCA), and finally to the facilities,” he explained.

“Based on the benefit package attached to the Basic Minimum Package of Health Care Services, (BMPHS), facilities offer services to Nigerians, make claims on each service offered and these claims are paid for by the National Health Insurance scheme, (NHIS), through the State Social Insurance Scheme For this process to work well, a lot of capacity building has been put in place to ensure that State agencies, facilities and the communities understand their roles and responsibilities. There is also going to be independent verification agents and external auditors who will periodically check to see that the activities being carried out have value for the money expended,” he said

He said that the TSA accounts enable interested parties to see the fund flow mechanism and ensures transparency for all to see and track progress.

Meribole disclosed that there were monitoring mechanisms to ensure that funds disbursed were delivered against agreed measurable targets and objectives.

He assured Nigerians that these targets would ultimately translate into improved access to quality healthcare for Nigeria’s vulnerable demography.

 “The need to ensure that the funds are used for what they were earmarked for is critical. The Civil Society Organisations(CSOs) are the watchdogs at every stage of implementation. I implore them to be serious in this area. Communities should always be on the alert, and continue to insist on their rights to quality health care,” he said.

The director said that the Federal Government viewed the effective implementation of the BHCPF as the key to achieving Universal Health Care (UHC) in Nigeria and wants the fund to be used strictly for that purpose.

“The President Muhammadu Buhari administration appropriated N55.1 Billion, which is one per cent of Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), to cater for the BHCPF in fulfillment of the National Health Act, 2014 in 2018. Already, 50 per cent of the money for 2018 has been released and we are hopeful of a hundred percent release. International partners such as the World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and USAID are also contributing to the Fund. The Brand name for this Programme is ‘HUWE’ meaning life,” he explained.

He said that the programme had laid down criteria for accessing the fund by all states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

He added that the process had ensured sustainability and ownership of the BHCPF, beginning with an initial N100 million as a sign of state commitment to implementing the BHCPF.

According to him, the states are also required to create State Health Insurance Agencies (SHIAs), and state primary health care development boards to serve as channels through which implementation would be monitored.

President Muhammadu Buhari,  had in January 2019, launched the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund(BHCPF), which was appropriated for, by the National Assembly in the 2018 budget.

The 2020 budget speech by President Buhari again allocated a statutory transfer of N44.5 billion for the BHCPF, which was among the five statutory transfers in Nigeria’s 2020 budget proposal.

Bilkisu Pai