Nigerian Senate to pass 2020 budget for attainment of UHC

Gloria Essien, Abuja


The President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmed Lawan, says the ninth National Assembly will pass the 2020 budget before the end of the year for attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).


He disclosed this while declaring open the third Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage, holding in Abuja.


Lawan, who was represented by Senator Robert Boroffice, said that over sight functions would be embarked on to make sure that consolidated revenue for health is properly utilized


He said that health budget is competing with other very necessary factors in Nigeria but that the senate would continue to make efforts to widen revenue base of the health sector.


He noted that “only a healthy population can be productive” hence the senate would make sure that health appropriation budgets are passed.


In his keynote address, the Nigerian minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, commended the Senators and Honourable members in the respective committees on Health, who have put in effort to keep this summit going, while working round the clock to ensure that the sector operates under an environment of accountability and transparency.


He noted that Nigeria has made some remarkable progress in a number of areas in the health sector.


“Firstly, incidence of wild polio cases in Nigeria have fallen from 1,122 new cases in 2006 to zero cases reported since August 2016, with only a few months left before we are finally declared free of polio. Secondly, HIV prevalence went from 5.8% in 2001 to 1.4 % in 2018; a huge achievement by all standards. Thirdly, we have made some progress in malaria control, with prevalence in children under-five reducing from 42% in 2010 to 23% in 2018. Also, our ability to respond to outbreaks has significantly improved with the NCDC actively driving surveillance and response activities, while the Nigeria State Health Investment Project (NSHIP) increased utilization and quality of care and child health in the eight participating states. Consequently, Penta3 vaccination coverage increased 15% and quality of care improved in 49% of facilities”. The minister said.


The minister who was represented a Director in the ministry, Dr. Sani Gwarzo however said “despite the successes, we still face serious challenges in the sector. Nigeria spends less on health than nearly every country in the world. In 2016, government health spending was 0.6% as a share of GDP or just $US11 per capita. This is below regional and lower middle income averages and the recommended US$86 per capita benchmark needed to deliver a limited set of key health services. Because of limited government and pooled health financing, health spending is dominated by out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditures. As a result, OOP spending accounts for 75.2% of total health expenditure – among the highest in the world – and 25% of households spend more than 10% of their household consumption on health a sign that more people are prone to poverty traps if they fall ill”. He said.


He stressed that the ministry of Health will continue to partner with stakeholders to improve the health of Nigerians.


“We look forward to more partnership and collaboration in achieving Universal Health Coverage”, he said.


The Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, said that for the health sector to move forward, all hands must be on deck.


The chairman said the issue of lack of money is no longer an issue as there is increased resources in the sector.


“We do have increase resources. The problem is no longer about money. The problem is about how the money is spent and for what it’s being spent for”, Oloriegbe said.


In his presentation, Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Health, Parliament of Ghana, Dr. Kwabena Twum-Nuamah,said that the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage of the Nigerian legislatures is a beautiful idea that have the potential to turn the health sector around.


He said that the initiative is worthy of emulation by other countries.

Bilkisu Pai