The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and People’s Rights Organisation (PRO) have appealed to the federal government to increase the budget for the primary healthcare sector of the country.
The CSOs made the call on Thursday in Abuja at the opening of a two-day civil society summit, saying that primary healthcare is the sector that touches the lives of rural people and impoverished citizens.
Eze Onyekpere, CSJ lead director, stated that CSOs were brainstorming on the policies and plans surrounding the 2023 health budget and to review and make a submission to the National Assembly before it passes the budget.
“We want more of the policies to be reflected in the budget, we want more money for primary healthcare, which is the healthcare that touches the lives of the poor and rural people, the ordinary Nigerians,” Mr Onyekpere said.
He added, “We want the government to activate the vulnerable group funds under the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act because the law says the government is supposed to make the provision of some money to activate the fund.”
Mr alleged that the 2023 federal budget for the health sector had no provision for the vulnerable group fund as provided by the NHIA Act.
He also called on the federal government to budget more money for the reproductive health and nutritional sub-sector of healthcare, adding that there are policy frameworks where the government promises to do all these.
He also called for an empirical basis for retained revenue for health institutions generating revenue so that they can contribute funding to support their upkeep rather than leaving everything in the hand of the government.
Mr Onyekpere advocated that all taxes realised from carbonated drinks, alcohol and excise duty should be dedicated to the health sector since the tax was introduced to curtail the consumption of these commodities.
Chris Nwadigo, the executive director of PRO, a human rights body, urged the federal government to observe the Abuja declaration and set aside 15 per cent of its entire budget for the health sector.
He alleged that the previous administration was only contributing below five per cent to the health sector, adding that this is a bridge of the right to health of Nigerian citizens.
“Renovation of the primary healthcare centres must be a priority because they are the engine room for the realisation of the right to health; the budgetary provisions are not enough,” said said Mr Nwadigo. “The 2023 budget, even though it is yet to be passed, may not adequately meet the requirements for the enjoyment of rights to health of Nigerians.”