Govt begins review of National Health Policy

Premature baby...Mothers exposed to high levels of airborne particulate pollution have the highest preterm birth rates, concluded scientists from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati, United States. PHOTO CREDIT: google.com/search

A review of the national health policy to align it with the targets and goals of member states of the United Nations under the newly launched Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has begun, the Federal Ministry of Health has said.

The Head of Child Health at the Ministry, Dr. Bose Adediran, disclosed this at an interaction with journalists in Abuja on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH).

Adediran, who described the national health policy as Nigeria’s overall policy in healthcare delivery, also spoke of a new guideline developed by the Ministry to determine, among others, the causes of death in women. This, according to her, is to ensure prevention and better delivery of service.

Also, stakeholders in the health sector have intensified calls for the Federal Government to commit 15 per cent of national budget to finance the health sector.

Speaking ahead of a reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health summit starting today in Abuja, the stakeholders recalled many of the unmet funding commitments by government and called for urgent action to ensure that the health sector is adequately funded.

Advocacy Advisor at Evidence for Action Project, Esther Agbon, recalled that “Nigeria, alongside other African heads of government in Abuja made a declaration to make health funding 15 per cent of national budget. To date, this commitment was never met.

Commitment were also made in 2012 at the London Summit to increase funding for family planning from US $3 million to an additional US$8.35 and in 2014, the National Health Act was signed into law requiring government to commit at least 1% additional funds from consolidated revenue fund to the health sector. This clearly tells us that while there is need for additional funds to the health sector, the government must find innovative ways to ensure the sector is adequately funded.”

Noting that the private sector has considerable resources that are under-leveraged in many countries, Agbon said private sector could bring in a comparative advantage to address issues of weak supply chains that cause shortage in commodities, insufficient and appropriate use of technology as well as inadequate access to capital for health care providers.

She warned that if 80 per cent of the budget is allocated to recurrent expenditure and only 20 per cent to capital expenses, Nigerians should not expect much to happen in the health sector. Esther noted: “Nothing has changed since then, as the ratio has further worsened if the 2016 budget were considered; only 14 per cent of the N257 billion proposed by the government is for capital expenditures.”

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