The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and People’s Rights Organisation (PRO) have appealed to the Federal Government to increase budget for primary healthcare sector of the country.
The CSOs made the call on Thursday in Abuja at the opening of a two-day civil society summit, saying the primary healthcare is the sector that touches the lives of the rural people and indigent citizens.
Dr Eze Onyekpere, the Lead Director, CSJ, stated that CSOs were intervening looking at the 2023 federal government budget proposal for the health sector and to make informed decision about it.
He said that the CSOs were brainstorming on the policies and plans surrounding the 2023 health budget and to review and make submission to the National Assembly before it passed the budget.
“The idea is that we are intervening; looking at the policies and plans of the federal government on health and how those policies and plans have reflected on the 2023 health budget proposal.
“The idea is to review and make a submission to the National Assembly at this point that they are yet to approve the budget, this is to avoid the poverty of remedial justice, crying after decisions have been taken.
“So, it is in our best interest to make those recommendations available to the authorities so that they can reflect them in the approved budget rather than wait after the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) have done their part before we start complaining.
“We want more of the policies to be reflected in the budget, we want more money for primary healthcare, which is the healthcare that touches the lives of the poor and rural people, the ordinary Nigerians.
“We want the government to activate the vulnerable group funds under the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act because the law says the government is suppose to make the provision of some money to activate the fund,” Onyekpere said.
Onyekpere alleged that the 2023 federal budget for the health sector had no provision for the vulnerable group fund as provided by the NHIA Act.
He also called on the federal government to budget more money for reporductove health and nutritional sub-sector of healthcare, adding that there are policy frameworks where government promises to do all these.
According to him, money meant for a particular project in the proposed 2023 budget must be used for the project it was meant for, and that health budget figures must be broken down for easy understanding.
He also called for empherical basis for retained of revenue for health institutions generating revenue so that they can contribute funding to support their upkeep rather than living everything in the hand of the government.
Onyekpere advocated that all taxes realised from carbonated drinks, alcohol and excise duty should be dedicated to health sector since the tax was introduced to curtail the consumption of these commodities.
He explained that when this is done, there will be more money for the enjoyment of the right to health and tenable state of physical and mental health.
According to him, policy makers must be alive to their duties and responsibilities.
Mr Chris Nwadigo, the Executive Director, PRO, an Human Rights NGO based in Owerri, Imo, also urged the federal government to observe the Abuja declaration and set aside 15 per cent of its entire budget for the health sector.
He alleged that the previous administration was only contributing below five per cent to health sector, adding that this is a bridge of the right to health of Nigerian citizens.
“We have seen that NHIA Act has been passed which provides mandatory insurance coverage for every Nigerian citizen, including the vulnerable and the downtrodden, even the state budget for health is also coming down.
“Renovation of the primary healthcare centres must be a priority because they are the engine room for the realisation of right to health, the budgetary provisions are not enough.
“There are ostentatious enactment on how to provide Jeeps and other luxury goods without the main care for the healthcare sector.
“The 2023 budget, even though it is yet to be passed, may not adequately meet the requirements for the enjoyment of rights to health of Nigerians,” said Nwadigo. (NAN)