Civil Society Organisations have called for the timely release of the N55.15 billion Basic Health Care Provision as statutory transfer, to scale-up key health interventions to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The group made the appeal at the end of the training organised for journalists by United States Agency for International Development – Health Finance Governance (USAID -HFG) project.
The training was in collaboration with Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage (LNUHC) and International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) held in Auta-Balefi near Keffi in Nasarawa state.
Senior Health Finance Advisor, USAID-HFG project, Dr Sylvester Akande, said the National Health Act 2014 provides for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) as statutory transfer.
Akande explained that the 2018 approved budget captures BHCPF as capital expenditure not as statutory transfer as provided by the National Health Act.
The Chief of Party of USAID- HFG, Dr GafarAlawode, said public financing of the health sector was important, if universal health coverage was going to be achieved.
Alawode expressed concern over the low public investment in health in Nigeria, adding that “we need the media to engage government for more investment and efficiency in the health sector’’.
He noted that the media should play an important role in passing the message across and letting the policy makers know the issues, gaps and problems of achieving and realising the aims of universal health coverage.
“The media has an important role in the area of accountability, holding government accountable for the policy statements they have already made in the health sector and financing the health sector.’’
The co-convener of the programme, Mrs Moji Makanjuola, Executive Director, ISMPH, said most of the diseases, which afflict Nigerians particularly in the rural arrears were preventable.
She said a lot of the people in the rural setting do not have information about health and the media had a vital role to play in disseminating correct health information.
She explained that the Basic Health Care Provision Fund was included in the 2018 budget, which the National Health Act provides that 45 per cent would go to National Primary Health Care Development Agency, while remaining 55 per cent would go to Federal Ministry of Health and the National Health Insurance Scheme.
“We need to track these and know how they use the fund, we need to know how they intend to build infrastructure that will create demand and supply.
“We need to know the things that are going to be scaled up for Nigerians in the health sector.
“We also need to see if these facilities will build the needed confidence in the health system that will ensure that Nigerians actually seek treatment from public health facilities,’’ she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training is part of deliberate efforts geared towards reforming health care financing, to improve advocacy for health financing reforms in Nigeria.
The training is also targeted at improving the knowledge and awareness of media practitioners on the basics of health financing and components of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC). (NAN)