The House of Representatives has urged the Federal Government to raise the percentage of allocation to the health sector in Nigeria’s annual budget from 5 per cent to 15 per cent.
According to the House, the amount being budgeted for health care in the country is grossly inadequate.
The lower chamber of the National Assembly made the call at the plenary on Wednesday when the lawmakers unanimously adopted a motion moved by Mr Ntufam Mbora, entitled, ‘Deplorable State of Government-Owned Health Care Facilities in Nigeria.’
Moving the motion, Mbora recalled that the reasons adduced forthe December 31, 1983, military coup were that Nigeria’s economy had been mismanaged, the country had become indebted and that the health sector was in shambles, as hospitals had been reduced to mere consulting clinics without drugs, water and health equipment to function optimally.
The lawmaker said 35 years after, including 19 years of democratic rule (since 1999), investigations carried out across the country revealed that not much had changed in the nation’s public health sector, as most public health centres were in deplorable states of being ill-equipped, understaffed and underfunded.
He said, “Nigerians are losing faith in the public health sector, as most government facilities are in bad shape and emergency units are barely equipped to respond to critical situations, thus causing privileged Nigerians to seek treatment outside the country. The decay in the nation’s health sector calls for a re-evaluation of the annual budgetary allocation to the sector, which is barely sufficient for adequate provision of medical facilities and maintenance.”
Mbora also recalled that the National Health Act, which was aimed at establishing a framework for the regulation, development and management of the National Health System, as well as setting standards for rendering health services and other related matters, had neither achieved the cardinal objective of Universal Health Coverage in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals nor brought about any significant change.
He said, “The House also regrets that the deplorable state of the health sector is a clear indication that the National Health Insurance Scheme has not been faithfully implemented, given that the 1 per cent basic health care provision fund from the Consolidated Revenue Fund ought to have brought about a significantly improved health sector, including manpower development.
“Despite public outcry, the menace still prevails as 40 per cent of medical doctors in Nigeria are still jobless despite the call on the Federal Government by the Nigeria Medical Association to employ capable medical personnel to reduce mortality rates in the country. The sordid state of Nigeria’s health institutions could be attributable to financial leakages, gross managerial ineptitude and corruption.”
The House, therefore, urged the Federal Government to “increase the annual budgetary allocations to the Health Sector from 5 per cent to 15 per cent as had been pledged by successive governments in order to curb unnecessary deaths caused by the failing health system.”
Also, the Committees on Health Institutions and Health Care Services were mandated to ensure compliance with the resolution.