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Dwindling Naira Turns Buhari’s 2017 Health Budget Into A Joke

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Due to continuous depreciation of Nigeria Naira to other foreign currencies, stakeholders in the health sector have raised an alarm over inadequate budgetary provision of a total sum of N304bn for the Federal Ministry of Health in the 2017 national budget.

The stakeholders under the platform of Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PACFAH), disclosed that the proposed health budget is cumulatively lower than that of 2016 due to foreign exchange challenges in the value of Naira to Dollar.

In a statement on the State of Nigeria Health Budget – 2017 issued by the PACFAH, the stakeholders noted that the proposed 2017 Health Budget is an improvement from past trends on the face value, especially the capital expenditure bit.

The statement reads: “The total sum of N304bn has been proposed for the Federal Ministry of Health, amounting to 83% for Recurrent expenditures (Salaries and Overheads) and 17% for Capital expenditure (health infrastructures and services).

“This 2017 proposed Ministry of Health budget is 4.17% of the national budget, a poor improvement on the 2016 budget of 4.13%. With about 80% improvement in terms of Capital expenditure of the 2017 proposed budget compared to that of 2016, the reality is that this proposed health budget is cumulatively lower than that of 2016 due to the skyrocketed foreign exchange value of a Naira to Dollar.

“In 2016, the Central Bank of Nigeria pegged the exchange rate at N197/1USD. Mid-year of 2016 and for the 2017 proposed budget, the exchange rate is at N305/1USD. As a result, while 2016 Health budget was $1.269m, the proposed 2017 Health budget is less by 21% at $0.997m. This is important because most of our health services are reliant on importation.

“By extension, the National Health Act was signed into law in 2014, unfortunately the proposed 2017 budget does not make provision for it. If it did, the sum of N46bn would have been added and dedicated to health projects and services and would have gone a long way to improve the lives of Nigerians.”

“Lastly, the Federal Government committed to the Abuja Declaration of 2001, promising to allocate 15% of its budget to Health, year 2017 budget this is the 16th budget year, the best Nigeria has done in Health allocation was 5.95 in 2012. The 2017 proposed health budget is at 4.17%, a whopping 73% gap from the 15% benchmark.”

Health is Wealth. No sector of the Nigerian economy will function properly and at all if Health is not guaranteed. The Government needs to urgently reconsider the inadequate 2017 proposed Health budget and upwardly review it to a minimum of 10% allocation while also considering the National Health Act (2014) and the Abuja Declaration.

The PACFaH NGO partners are include Association for the Advancement of Family Planning in Nigeria (AAFP); Family planning at Federal level; Civil Society Initiative for Scaling-up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN); Community Health and Research Initiative (CHRI): Federation of Muslim Women Organizations of Nigeria (FOMWAN); Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON) and Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN).

PACFaH is a health policy advocacy project led by Nigerian NGOs holding government to account to fulfill health policy and funding commitments. (PRNigeria)

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