Medical practitioners seek 15% budget allocation for health sector

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The Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria has advised the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, to work toward increasing national health budget to 15 per cent to improve health care delivery in the country.

Dr Tunji Akintade, Chairman, Lagos State chapter of the association, gave the advice in an interview on Monday in Lagos.

He said that the minister should focus on ensuring that the Federal Government fulfilled the Abuja Declaration on health funding.

The Heads of State of member countries of the African Union (AU) in 2001 made the “Abuja Declaration”, under which the leaders pledged to commit at least 15 per cent of their annual budgets to improving their health sectors.

Since the declaration, Nigeria has not attained the pledged funding benchmark in its annual budget allocation to the health sector.

President Muhammadu Buhari signed N8.9 trillion budget for 2019, proposed the sum of N315 billion for recurrent expenditure and N50.15 billion for capital expenditure in the health sector, representing 4.1 per cent of the national budget.

Akintade decried the lack of government’s commitment to the pact, saying that past health budget allocation had hovered below seven per cent, while the released fund was around 3.5 per cent.

The minister should ensure that the health sector achieve a national budget of 15 per cent, and the budget release must be complete.

“We also have to ensure that the 15 per cent released is not used for structure but spent on functionality that will aid the sector’s development.

“Spending budget allocation on building, helipad and car purchase will not impact the sector,” he said.

Akintade noted that until the country increases its health care budget, citizens would continue to grapple with high health services while struggling to stay healthy. 

Ime Njoku