A coalition of health advocacy groups has criticised the 2022 budget proposal presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it contains no single budget line item for family planning.
They warned that lack of funding would adversely affect ongoing family planning targets and services deemed the silver bullet to Nigeria’s burgeoning population.
The health advocates noted that the budget seems not to have any specific information or plan to address family planning and the threat of population explosion in Nigeria.
While appraising the 2022 budget proposal, the coalition said the proposed capital expenditure cannot meet the health needs of Nigeria’s estimated 206 million people.
The Partnership for Advocacy on Child and Family Health (PACFaH@Scale), a coalition of 23 civil society organisations, said the health sector, over the last decade, has continued to suffer poor capital budget allocation.
The group added that the relatively poor capital budget utilisation rate for the health sector staggering around 60 per cent, merely caters for more of administrative capital for the MDA buildings’ renovation, repairs, procurement of computers, office furniture, constructions, research, among others.
The PACFaH@Scale project is anchored by the non-profit development Research and Projects Centre, a coalition dedicated to capacity building for the expansion of social capital and accountability in Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari has proposed a capital expenditure of N194.6 billion for the Ministry of Health in the 2022 appropriation bill submitted to the National Assembly.
For the recurrent expenditure comprising personnel and overhead costs, the president earmarked about N516.6 billion bringing the total budget proposal for health in 2022 to N711.2 billion from an overall annual estimated total of N16.3 trillion.
Health experts have repeatedly decried poor funding of family planning initiatives.
The family planning (FP) 2020 target of enabling more women and girls of reproductive age to have access to contraceptives by the year 2020 was not achieved because the government continuously failed to complete its counterpart funding commitment for the goal, thereby hindering progress, advocates say.
In a joint release Wednesday signed by Okai Haruna Aku, the Executive Director, Parenthood Federation of Nigeria, the Coalition said the omission of specific funding for family planning in the proposed budget expected to be passed into law in the coming weeks will most likely scuttle future targets if not addressed.
“With a rapidly growing population rate confronted by pandemic, epidemic, climate change, food insecurity and social uprisings, the entire budget has no mention of specific budget line item for family planning, child spacing, provision of contraceptives or public awareness campaign on child spacing,” the statement said.
While commending the Federal Government on the family planning budgetary line items in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, the coalition said there is a need to be consistent with FP financing as a budget line item in the 2022 proposed health sector budget.
“This can be done by reintroducing the FP line item missing in the proposed 2022 health budget,” it appealed.
It added; “We call on the Federal Government to ensure full implementation of the Nigeria Family Planning Blueprint launched in 2020 and its dissemination at the subnational levels.
We call for the full coverage of the family planning services under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).”
In the joint release, Mr Aku also decried Nigeria’s consistent failure to meet its commitment to the health sector, especially the ‘Abuja Declaration’.
It was the realisation of the deficiencies in their health systems that made African governments commit in April 2001 to dedicate at least 15 per cent of their annual budgets to the health sector in what is now known as the ‘Abuja Declaration’.
“The total health sector budget for the last 20 years has averaged below 6 per cent of the total FGN budget. The 2022 proposed health sector budget is 4.97 per cent of the total health budget; miles away from the 15 per cent Abuja Declaration”, the statement said.
Although the total amount budgeted for the health sector for the coming year is the highest ever, it is just nearly 5 per cent of the aggregate total expenditure of 16.3 trillion proposed for 2022 which falls below the 15 per cent agreed by African countries in 2001.
The 2022 health budget proposal of 711.2 billion is higher in amount compared to the N547 billion earmarked for 2021 but in percentage of the total budget, the latter is higher. The 2021 health budget is about seven per cent of the year’s annual budget total of N13.08 trillion while the 2022 proposed allocation represents almost 5 per cent of the total estimate.
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