Nigeria needs to spend about N712 billion annually to bridge its healthcare financing deficit, a civic technology organization, BudgIT Nigeria says.
BudgIT’s Lead Partner, Oluseun Onigbinde, who made the observation on Thursday, called on the federal government to strengthen primary health care centres to be able to tackle epidemics in the country.
Mr. Onigbinde was speaking in Abuja at the presentation of a report titled Health Financing Analysis in Ebola Affected Countries: The Readiness of Primary Healthcare Centres To Tackle Diseases.
He said budgetary allocation to health should be increased, as Nigeria’s health per capita is relatively low when compared to other African countries.
“If Equatorial Guinea could do $663 per citizen, then Nigeria can improve from $118 to at least $300.
“If the health budget is made to attain at least 15 per cent of the national budget, as declared by the African Union, an additional sum of N712 billion ($1.9 billion) will be needed to give the goal sum of N1.09 trillion ($ 3.03 billion), and Nigeria can achieve more tangible investments in the sector,” he said
Mr. Onigbinde urged state governments to equip PHCs to cater for the needs of citizens in rural areas.
“The federal government should spend more on capital expenditure, as the difference between recurrent and capital is wide. If Nigeria seeks to fund the health sector through borrowing, then transparency and accountability should be adopted.
“Primary Health Centres should be adequately equipped, as these centres are often visited by citizens in rural communities. This will also help to reduce congestion in the tertiary health institutions,” he said.
In his remarks, the National Coordinator, National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said financing PHCs will go a long way in tackling health issues in Nigeria.
“In the work I do and in the agency I lead, NCDC surveillance is one of our core functions and surveillance is not possible if we do not have a strong primary health care system.
“So we are glad that this work highlights some opportunities to improve PHCs in Nigeria and other African countries.
“Once we improve PHCs, it gives us an opportunity to improve surveillance and enable us to detect outbreak quicker and also respond faster,” he said.