Editor's note: The poor health financing arising from lean budget often results in weak and obsolete infrastructure in the hospitals, congestion of patients to access health care because of limited human resources.
In this report, Wale Akinola, reveals the real reasons the federal government should increase funding for health sector.
The way a country finances its health care system is a critical determinant for reaching universal health coverage. This is because it determines whether the health services that are available are equally affordable to those that need them.
The health indicators for Nigeria are among the worst in the world. Nigeria shoulders 10% of the global disease burden and is making slow progress towards achieving the targets for the health related MDGs.
The Nigeria health sector budget is not impressive as it has never moved closer to World Health Organization (WHO) template of 15% of the members' annual budget to be allocated to the health sector.
The followings are the reasons there should be more funding for health sector in Nigeria:
1. Health is paramount
Health is wealth but if the services are not available then nothing else matters. Presently, research has shown that Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Deaths from preventable communicable diseases such as Pneumonia and cancer are very common.
In 2014, the National Health Act was signed into law. This law provides that the government must direct one percent of the annual budget for the health sector. In 2015 President Buhari publicly pledged additional funding for health, so that 1% of the consolidated revenue fund would fund the basic health Care Provision Fund.
2. Spread of Lassa fever
Lassa fever is an acute, viral disease carried by a type of rat that is common in West Africa. It can be life-threatening.
It is a hemorrhagic virus, which means it can cause bleeding, although 8 out of every 10 people with the virus have no symptoms. If it affects the liver, kidneys, or spleen, it can be fatal.
The disease is endemic to a number of West African countries. In some areas of Liberia and Sierra Leone, 10 to 16 percent of all hospital admissions are due to Lassa fever, indicating a serious and widespread impact in those areas.
Lassa fever was first discovered in Nigeria, when two missionary nurses became ill with the virus in 1969. Its name is derived from the village of Lassa, where it was first documented.
Lassa fever mainly occurs in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria. However, the Mastomys rat is common in neighboring countries, so these areas are also at risk.
3. Health sector faces crisis of underinvestment
Investigations reveal that the health sector faces a severe crisis of under-investment. The cost of essential health services globally is put at about US $90 per person per year. In 2015, 71 countries invested less than this in the health of their citizens, and 41 nations, with a combined population of 2.6 billion, invested less than US $25 per person.
Nigeria also needs to improve the efficiency of its investments in the health sector to ensure it is getting the best outcomes. External development assistance for health and other global partnerships can play a complementary and catalytic role to domestic resources, which form the vast majority of investments in health at the country level.
4. Focusing on quality of care
Access and affordability of health services alone are not enough – health care also needs to be of high quality. Three recent global reports, including a joint report from the World Bank Group, the WHO and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), reveal that poor quality health services are holding back progress on improving health in countries at all income levels and Nigeria is not an exception.
5. Protecting all people from pandemics
There’s been a steady increase in the frequency and diversity of disease outbreaks over the past 30 years. Epidemics can strike anywhere. But it’s often the weakest part of the health system, where people are not being reached by health services, is often where outbreaks grow unchecked.
People would be protected from outbreaks and pandemics only if every single person is covered by health services—which is the foundation of universal health care. This is why the World Bank Group focuses on supporting countries to strengthen veterinary and human health systems.
6. Mobilizing for collective action
Making universal health coverage 2030 a reality, people need to be aware of what they are entitled to from their health system, involved in designing health care that responds to their needs, and engaged in monitoring health care so that they can advocate for change when it doesn’t deliver what it promises.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that a 67-year-old woman revealed herbal treatment that reverses type 2 diabetes and saved her from amputations
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