Parliament to Increase 2017 Health Sector Budget to =N=1.1trillion

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

In line with African Union Abuja Declaration of 2001 which recommends a minimum of 15% of total annual budgets of member states for the health sector, the National Assembly on Wednesday declared that it will reflect the AU recommendation in the 2017 budget for Nigeria’s health sector.

The National Assembly’s stance for 15% allocation to the health sector in the 2017 budget as against 2.78%  earmarked  for it in capital votes and 8.49% earmarked for it in recurrent votes, was announced by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Lanre Tejuoso in Abuja.

Senator Tejuoso who made the declaration at a special media briefing on the poor state of health care system in Nigeria and way out of it through adequate budgetary provisions said the sector going by its terrible state requires emergency intervention and deserves priority attention.

He lamented that the poor state of health care system in the country over the years had resulted in promotion of medical tourism by privileged Nigerians to other countries of the world which according to him, has resulted into yearly capital flight of about $1billion to the detriment of the Nation’s health sector.

The Senator added that “Such an external expenditure which is equivalent to =N=305billion at official exchange rate was not good for the Nation’s economy. Despite being a signatory to the 2001 African Union Abuja Declaration, Nigeria has not met with the minimum requirement of allocating 15% of the total annual budget to health.

He added that “not surprising, we could not meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target.  We, as senators and members of the House of Representatives, feel the pain of the average Nigerian, more so in the face of the current recession and the attendant hardship it has brought on the people.

Senator Tejuoso further stated “therefore the 8th National Assembly as champions for improved health sector, is committed to increased appropriation  to the health sector in 2017 in line with the African Union Abuja Declaration of 2001 which recommends a minimum of 15% of total annual budgets to be dedicated to health.”

The 15%, if allocated to the sector by the National Assembly, will increase its present total allocation in the budget from =N=304billion to =N=1.1trillion.

The senator said that the 8th National Assembly will also ensure that the provision of the National Health Act 2014, which stipulates that 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) be dedicated to the health sector, is strictly adhered to in the 2017 budget.