..2019 records worst vote in 9 years with 3.57%
By Clifford Ndujihe
BY the end of 2019, the Federal Government would have spent N61.481 trillion in annual budgets in 10 years, if the N8.83 trillion proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari for this year is approved by the National Assembly.
Of this hefty sum, only N2.775 trillion or 4.51 per cent was allocated to the health sector. This is a far cry from the World Health Organisation, WHO’s recommended 13 per cent or the 15 per cent declared by the African Union in 2001 in Abuja, which Nigeria is a signatory to.
Over the years, budgetary allocations to Nigeria’s health sector have remained disappointingly and scandalously low in spite of the numerous challenges faced by the sector.
In 2010, a miserly N161.84 billion or 3.14 per cent of the N5.160 trillion budget was allocated to health (see table). There were improvements in the following three years thus: 2011 budget of N4.972 trillion allocated N257.871 billion (5.19 per cent) to health; in 2012, the N4.877 trillion expenditure had health taking N279.23 billion or 5.73 per cent; and in 2013 the sum of N282.502 billion (5.67 per cent) of the N4.987 trillion budget was earmarked for health.
In 2014, health budget started witnessing a downward slide. Of the N4.962 trillion budget, the sector got N264.483 billion or 5.33 per cent. In 2015, health got N257.544 billion (5.08 per cent) of the N5.068 trillion expenditure.
In 2016, President Buhari’s first full year in office, out of the N6.061 trillion budget only about N250 billion or 4.13 per cent was voted for the health sector.
A similar scenario played out in 2017 when out of a N7.444 trillion appropriation, a paltry N308 billion or 4.14 per cent went to the health sector. There was a marginal rise of 4.36 per cent in 2018 as health was allocated N397.55 billion of the N9.12 trillion expenditure.
Except something happens, 2019 will be worse. Out of President Buhari’s proposed N8.83 trillion budget, an insignificant N315.62 billion or 3.57 per cent was voted for the health sector.
If the government had implemented the AU’s 15 per cent recommendation, the sum of N9.223 trillion (compared to N2.775 trillion) would have been allocated to the health sector in the last 10 years. The extra N6.448 trillion would have boosted the provision of healthcare facilities and fighting prevailing diseases like malaria.
Poor health indices
Given the paltry budgetary allocations to the heath sector, it is not surprising that Nigeria’s health care indices have remained poor and heart-rending. Last year, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, ranked Nigeria 11th on newborn deaths globally.
According to a report on “Newborn Mortality” released by UNICEF, eight of the 10 most dangerous places to be born are sub-Saharan Africa, where pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance during delivery due to poverty, conflict and weak institutions. “With the newborn mortality rate of 29 deaths per 1,000 births, the global estimates rank Nigeria as the 11th highest on newborn deaths.
Last March, the federal government said that Nigeria records about 756,000 under five deaths annually.
Mr. Osarenoma Uwaifo, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, disclosed this at a two-day annual symposium on experience sharing on Integrated Community Case Management of Childhood illness (ICCM) in Abuja.
Mr. Osarenoma, who was represented by Bose Adeniran, Head, Child Health Division, said that the data was made known by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME).
According to him, Nigeria contributes 11 per cent of total global deaths of under-five, ranking second on the list of countries with burdens of child mortality.
A joint report (Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015 by WHO, UNICEF, World Bank and United Nations Population Fund) estimates that Nigeria has approximately 58,000 maternal deaths, accounting for 19% globally. Put differently, at least 800 women die in every 100,000 live births. North-East has the highest maternal mortality rate, compared to other regions, with 1,549 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Nigeria also has the highest Cancer death rate in Africa. The WHO said recently that ‘’cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and accounted for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer. In Nigeria, cancer leads to over 72,000 deaths per annum. This number is set to increase given that there are over 102,000 new cases of cancer every year,’’ it said.
NMA decries chronic inadequate budgetary allocations health sector
The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, late last year, decried what it described as chronic inadequate budgetary allocations to the health sector, which it lamented had been hurting efforts to boost healthcare delivery in the country.
Rising from an eight-day National Executive Council, NEC meeting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State between December 9 to 16, the medical body also expressed sadness over the inability of some federal teaching hospitals to pay salaries of doctors.
A communiqué by Dr. Francis Adedayo Faduyile, president and Dr Olumuyiwa Peter Odusote, secretary-general, read in part: ‘’NEC noted that the incidence of cancers in Nigeria is increasing and has reached alarming proportions. There is absence of national policy on mandatory cancer reporting, absence of legislation to curtail exposure to environmental carcinogens including tobacco smoke and industrial pollution, poor enforcement of existing laws on cancer control, limited diagnostic and treatment facilities, the high cost of managing cancer patients and the exclusion of cancer treatment in the National Health Insurance scheme, were identified as main factors responsible for the increasing incidence and burden of cancers in Nigeria; this is apart from the chronic inadequate budgetary allocation to the health sector, neglect and poor funding of our various cancer registries and cancer research in Nigeria…
‘’The NEC expressed great displeasure at the failure of the management of Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi-Araba, Lagos, to pay the salaries of doctors for up to four months, failure of Abia State Government to pay salaries of doctors and other health workers for eight months and the casualisation of doctors at Federal Medical centre, FMC, Umuahia, Abia State.
‘’The NEC considered the action of LUTH Management, Abia State Government and the management of FMC Umuahia, as unacceptable. The NEC also frowned at the non-payment of skipping arrears to doctors in some tertiary health institutions.’’Read Full Story