Members of the Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA) joined other civil society organizations (CSOs) in a workshop review of the maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) component of the 2017 federal budget proposal, in Abuja. Convened by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) on the 23rd of January 2017, the workshop brought together CSOs with interest in the health sector and specifically to underscore the importance of increased health funding within the MNCH space; and also develop appropriate policy recommendations to the National Assembly.
In his remarks, Lead Director, Barrister Eze Onyekpere stated that the review of the 2017 budget for MNCH was imperative and the policy document that will emanate from the workshop will be harmonized with that from other CSOs and presented to the National Assembly.
A comparison of the 2016 budget with the 2017 budget showed that total allocation for the Federal Ministry of Health were N250.063b and N304.191b respectively; at 4.13% and 4.17% of the total national budget. They both fell short of the Abuja Declaration which mandates a 15% health allocation of the total budget at N909.102b for 2016 and N1.095t for 2017.
Dr. Laz Eze, consultant at Direct Consulting and Logistics (DCL) and Mr. David Agu, economist at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka both analyzed the 2017 health budget proposal in relation to MNCH provisions. The review showed that the 2017 health budget did not meet the 2016 CSOs’ Recommendations on the Medium Term Sector Strategy (MTSS) for the Health Sector; which proposed increased allocation to meet the Abuja declaration, the NHAct implementation, Primary Healthcare (PHC) revitalization (only funds for 1000 out of 10,000 PHCs in 2017 budget), sustainable immunization financing framework, contribution of partner’s support in the budget and the biennial appropriation for vaccines procurement. However, interaction with government officials revealed that the approval of the current budget will be adequate for the routine immunization program for the year 2017 at N12.5b. In addition, there was no allocation for the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF). The review also showed that the budget for health and MNCH was not complaint with national and international policies and commitments, including the Nigeria Family Planning (FP) blueprint, National Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition (NSPAN) 2014 – 2018, Vision 20:20:20 and resources that fill the funding gap following Gavi transition which begins this year, 2017.
Following the review, recommendations were made including increasing budget for MNCH in the 2017 federal budget, inclusion of BHCPF, providing visibility for recurrent expenditure for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), ensuring adequate funding for FP and Nutrition, and removal of frivolous line items. In addition, donor funding like the World Bank loans to States, should be captured in the budget. Continued advocacy by CSOs and partners like CSJ and IVAC during budget preparation should continue.
WAVA was represented at the workshop by Vaccine Network for Disease Control (VNDC) and the African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD). Other organizations in attendance include Development Strategy Centre at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON); Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria – Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PSN-PACFaH); and civil society organizations from Adamawa, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Lagos and Sokoto.
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