In a bid to sustain the gains of the Budget Process Reform, stakeholders in the health sector are collaborating on strategies to ensure sustained impact.
The stakeholders, who spoke during the high-level sustainability meeting facilitated by the Federal Ministry of Health‘s Planning and Budgeting Committee with support from Result for Development (R4D) to discuss the gains and way forward for Health budget processes in Nigeria, noted that budget is recognised as not just a technical tool but a political tool to help countries achieve their policies in terms of what the country needs to spend towards achieving the strategic objectives and for health.
They stressed the need to ensure that the budgets appropriated and allocated in the sector are released, saying „From what we have seen over the years supporting the national health account studies, you find out that even in some states in Nigeria, where they have met the Abuja declaration of allocating not less than 15 per cent of their budget to health, what will be released will not even be up to 5 per cent. So that is a challenge that we have seen and needs to be handled.“
The country director, R4D, Dr Hope Uweja, informed that for some years now, the organisation with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates had been supporting the Ministry of Health to improve budget process for health.
He said one of the key gains of the programme is that it has prepared the ministry improve the alignment of health expenditure and projects in the country.
„So now, you can see a situation where more expenditure is going into areas that will be able to give better value for money being spent, both in terms of improving financing for primary health care, and also targeting areas where expenditure for health is mostly needed, particularly for the vulnerable group, maternal and child health and other areas that have been calling for attention in the past years.
„Just few months back. The federal government passed the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act. You see a situation where more funding is now going for the vulnerable groups. All these processes are going to improve the healthcare through the government public budgeting process, which is exactly what this programme seeks to achieve.
„So in a nutshell, what we are doing is to improve that budget process. But more importantly, we are preparing the health ministry to be able to take a bigger role to ensure that Nigerians get the healthcare that they need.“
The organisation, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have been supporting the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) to improve the budget process for health, with the aim to improve the alignment between health expenditures and budgeting in the country with national health priorities and policies.