By Angela Inusa
The Center for Social Justice has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to improve its commitment to the funding and management of Maternal, New- Born and Child Health (MNCH) in the country.
The call was made in a press briefing on Thursday by the Programme Officer (Good governance), Mr. Victor Emejuiwe in Abuja.
Mr. Emejuiwe says that the briefing was mobilize the media to help draw the attention of the Federal government of Nigeria to be adequately committed to its funding and proper implementation of the MNCH’s allocation in the 2017 Federal Budget.
This according to him is because contrary to the 1999 constitution which provides for the right to life; tied to ‘right to health and MNCH, the federal government is taking retrogressive steps by cutting down on funds budgeted for basic healthcare and MNCH and also failing to meet the 15% Abuja Declaration Benchmark.
He also said pointed out that despite the exodus of donors, there is no clear strategy put in place for filling the funding gap which may deepen in subsequent years.
Emejuiwe says that CSJ thus seeks to hold the government accountable to its obligations to increase transparency in the budgeting process and to ensure that adequate provisions are made for the beneficiaries of the MNCH’s provision in the 2017 budget.
He says the CSJ will achieve this by providing budget analysis and monitors with background information to facilitate the tracking of expenditure when the budget is approved eventually.
Also, to review whether the budget’s estimate are realizable in meeting the demands and challenges of the MNCH and if it recognises the recommendations made by Civil Societies an professional bodies in their contribution to the 2016-2018 Health Sector Medium Term Sector Strategies (MTSS) and previous review of health budgets.
Emejuiwe listed some of the inadequacies of CSJ’s findings from the 1% MNCH’s allocation in the 2017 budget and said that they were no details in some of the provisions such as;
· Purchase of Defibrillators to be distributed to the Primary Health Centers. It states that details of quantity and location were no included.
· Last mile distribution of contraceptive commodities: Report lacked adequate details
· Training of 5 Doctors and 5 Nurses on the management of Obstetrics fistula: Report noted that capacity building for obstetric fistula is vital.
· Refund for Global Alliance Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI): Report gathers that there is need for transparency and accountability in the management of donor and public funds in the MDAs
These findings are a few among other findings in the estimates as presented in the 2017 budget allocation on MNCH.
He however highlighted CSJ’s recommendations as a way forward for legislators, executives and CSOs. Some of the recommendations are:
· Progressively take steps in to meet the Abuja declaration of a minimum allocation of 7.5% of the 2017 budget and progressively increasing subsequent years.
· Make provision to fill in gaps in the event of any discovered funding gap for immunization.
· Tackle malnutrition and stunting, increase nutrition related funding to not less than N3.5 billion amongst others.
Executives prepare a bill for Universal Health Coverage involving creative method of funding, contributory insurance, etc. and send same for the consideration of the National Assembly as this will improve economic accessibility and affordability of MNCH and other health services.
Mainstream MNCH and other health issues in the work and programming of MDAs so that education and sensitisation leading to health information accessibility will be used to improve MNCH standards and indicators.
· Continue evidence based advocacy to NASS to improve a budget that will address MNCH pressing issues.
· Demand for inclusiveness, accountability and transparency in the health budget preparation process.
· Monitor the implementation of the MNCH budgets nationwide.
· Conduct sensitization on the provisions of the NHA (2014) and demand for full implementation of the NHA.
· Advocate for timely release of funds and full budget implementation by health agencies after approval by the government.
He further reminded the media of the roll it can play by making this advocacy reach its target which are stake holders of the health sector and the federal government of Nigeria.