By Gracia Obi
Health experts at a forum in Abuja unanimously decried the inadequate financing of Nigeria’s health sector and called on the government at all levels to increase funding of the sector, to prevent people from dying due to preventable causes.
The Federal Government currently spends about 4 to 6 per cent of its budget on health, contrary to the 15 per cent agreed on by African leaders, during the Abuja Declaration in 2001.
The experts, however, called on the Federal Government to introduce taxes on phone calls and airplane operators to generate more funds to service the health sector.
The experts made their views known at a stakeholders engagement forum on “Sustainable Health Financing in Nigeria”, organised by Access Bank Plc, as part of its contribution to the on-going reform in Nigeria’s health sector.
In his presentation, the director general of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Professor John Idoko, lamented that over 75 per cent of HIV spending in Nigeria was by foreign groups, while 25 per cent was from within the country.
He emphasised the need for the Federal Government to invest heavily in the health sector, considering the country’s high burden of diseases.
He said 60 to 70 per cent of morbidity in Nigeria was caused by TB, malaria and HIV, adding that there was the need for the government to develop the political will to domesticate health financing in the country.
In his address, chief executive officer (CEO) of Global Fund, Dr. Mark Dybul, stressed that the organisation was ready to work with Nigeria to improve its health sector “provided your country shows commitment.”
“We are ready to build a strong partnership with you, if you lead the process. We will bring companies to work with you on health insurance,” he said.