Enabulele urges FG to promote investment in health sector
VICE President of the Common Health Medical Association, West African Region, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, has urged the Federal Government (FG) to encourage more investment in the health sector, especially in the light of free fall in global oil price.
Enabulele said the measure, among other others, was necessary to ensure Nigerians do not suffer on account of dwindling allocation to States and local governments at this time.
He also called on government at all levels to institute more imaginative strategies in their management of the current economic crisis in a way that takes into account the need to substantially preserves the health sector, protect health of the people and encourage greater investments in the sector.
Enabulele, who is also the immediate past president of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) noted that the fall in oil prices in the global market (currently $47 per barrel) and attendant introduction of some austerity measures by the FG might adversely affect funding, financial allocations and releases to the health sector, particularly if the health sector is not given topmost priority by the various levels of government.
If at the times when global oil prices were attractive, with oil selling for over $100 per barrel, Nigeria’s health sector was still generally challenged with poor budgetary provisions, he wondered what would happen in 2015 with the oil price at its all time low.
Except for a few, most governments at Federal, State and Local levels are often in gross breach of the 2001 Abuja declaration of African Heads of State that prescribed that a minimum of 15 per cent of government’s budget should be allocated to the
health sector. Also, the percentage allocations to the health sector in the 2015 and 2014 Federal budgets were not inspiring as they were less than the percentage allocated to the health sector in the 2013 budget.
Enabulele, therefore, feared that if the current challenges were not well managed and the expected funding difficulties in the health sector in 2015 not mitigated by the various levels of government and health authorities, it would adversely affect the productivity of the work force and further worsen the economic state of Nigeria.
“Similarly, one will not be surprised to see a slowing down of various national, state, local and institutional health programs and services, with consequent negative impact on the quality of health care services, patient care and the health of Nigerians. This is more so as most public health institutions and agencies in Nigeria are already groaning under the pains of reduced revenues and subventions in the out gone year, 2014.
“I therefore wish to call on all levels of government to institute more imaginative strategies in their management of the current economic crisis resulting from the global fall in oil prices. This is the time for all levels of government to grant tax reliefs and import duty waivers to providers of healthcare and hospital equipment, as well as institute the promised Health and Hospital Development Fund (HHDIF),” he said.
Enabulele said further that the Federal, State and Local Government Authorities should not be deterred from devoting adequate resources to health as well as ensuring efficiency, in spite of the global oil crisis and some other competing demands of government.
“This is in realisation of the strong nexus between quality health care and economic development. They must remain guided by the fact that investments in the health of the people is needed to reverse brain drain, improve Nigeria’s health indices and engender substantial economic and social returns for the country through a productive economy driven by healthy citizens of Nigeria.
“The year 2015 is undoubtedly a crucial year for the Nigerian health sector and the health of Nigerians. If governments at Federal, State and Local levels do not explore imaginative approaches in managing the ripple effects of the global oil crisis, I am doubtful if Nigeria can successfully breast the tape in the race to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he said.