Health experts weigh in on 2017 budgetary allocation for health

While some health experts in Nigeria are optimistic that the 2017 budgetary proposal for health would propel health care delivery in the country, others are worried that such allocation is still short of the Abuja Declaration for health budgetary allocation.

Dr Bamidele Iwalokun Head of Immunology and Vaccinology Research Department, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos, said the proposed budget allocation to health in 2017 would make healthcare delivery more effective and reduce the nation’s health problems significantly.

President Muhammadu Buhari, had on December 14 presented 2017 budget proposal of N7.298 trillion to the joint session of the National Assembly.

In the budget, N252.87 billion was earmarked for the Ministry of Health as recurrent expenditure and provision for the payment of salaries and overheads, while N51 billion was set aside for capital expenditure.

Iwalokun said, “The proposed amount allocated to health in 2017 will make healthcare delivery more effective and reduce the nation’s health problems to a non-significant level by 2030-2050.’’.

Analyzing the budget he said “with the 2017 budget proposal, it also means that health can benefit from the N2.24 trillion allocated for capital expenditure (30.7 per cent of the total budget) in the areas of infrastructure such as second-line.’’

Also, Dr Akinkumi Afolabi, the President, Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos, said that healthcare financing was a major determinant of quality of healthcare in a country.

Afolabi said the current budgetary allocation still falls short of The Abuja Declaration stipulates that African countries should allocate 15 per cent of its national budget to health toward improving their health indicators.

“With this advocacy, the 2017 budget termed “Budget of Recovery and Growth” has N252 billion going into the health, which represents less than five per cent of the total budget. The amount allocated to health remains abysmal for a country with an out of pocket payment system for health”, he said.

He however said funding the health sector will be easier once “the National Health Act 2014 is fully implemented”, while also advocating for the expansion of the “National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to accommodate the informal sector”.

Abuja Declaration for health budgeting

African leaders had in 2001 at a meeting in Abuja, pledged to allot 14 15 per cent of its annual budget to health.

In April 2001, the African Union countries met and pledged to set a target of allocating at least 15% of their annual budget to improve the health sector and urged donor countries to scale up support.

Since that pledge, Nigeria is yet to meet the target.

Rafat S.