As a result of the strategic importance of health to human lives, Nigeria’s health care sector has received adequate attention from both the federal government and the international development partners. Several commitments have been made to fund the sector, yet the statistics of health care growth in Nigeria is still very poor. Attempts to mitigate the funding challenge of health care in developing countries like Nigeria, has made the international health organization to earmark 15% of total countries budget to healthcare. Nigeria has never met up with the budget benchmark for the healthcare, it has however provided substantial amount of its budget to health.
From 2010 to 2015, between N160bn to N267bn have been allocated in the federal budget for health care, this amount comprises of both recurrent and capital expenditure. However, the capital aspects of these funds have been between 60bn to 90bn but they are not often fully utilised. Several donor agencies such as the World Health Organization, Bill Gates Foundation, USAID, etc. have contributed largely to Nigeria’s health financing.
The contributions of these (IDA) agencies include a recent $500m International Development Association credit given by the World Bank to bring about significant improvements in maternal, child, and nutrition health services for women and children. This is different from the $ 150m which the bank gave to Nigeria last year for the funding of Nigeria State Health Investment Project (NSHIP).
Also, last year Norway offered $15m grant for maternal, child healthcare. the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Canada also made a N992m donation for health equipment to Nigeria. Other donors include; Bills and Melinda Gates Foundation which currently provides $400m to partner organisations, like the Society for Family health, to carry out health development programmes such as improve care for newborns and pregnant women in communities in Northeast Nigeria.
There is also the MDG’s contribution on health with funding intervention to prevent the high maternal and child mortality rate in Nigeria. With the inflow of these donations, it is baffling that Nigeria is not making progress especially in the area of maternal and child health. The report released in 2014 by the World Health Statistics shows that Nigeria’s infant mortality rate is 112 per 1000 live births in 2010; in 2012 it reduced to 78 per 1000 live births. The achievement failed to meet with the transformation agenda’s target of 60/1000 live births for 2011 and 45/1000 live births in 2013.
Nigeria also has the 7th largest infant mortality rate in the world as at 2012. With the rounding up of the MDGs goal, the country is still behind the target of meeting the 30.3 deaths per 1000 live birth for 2015.
The amount of money generated or allocated for health care does not also translate to the affordability of health care in Nigeria. Apart from the annual budget which provides for essential drugs and equipment, the federal government workers are meant to contribute 7.5% of their salaries for healthcare with an additional employee contribution of 7.5% making it a total of 15% through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) yet Nigerians still pay heavily for medical consumptions and hospital beds.
Nigeria also lacks basic medical equipment, personnel, and hospital beds for the number of persons needing access to medical care. As a result most Nigerians engage in medical tourism abroad to the detriment of the country’s economy.
Published: Jun 2, 2015. By Victor Emejuiwe
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