‘4m lives could be saved by 2022 through Health Act’

HealthThe National Health Act, if timely implemented, is expected to resolve all health-related issues, support Nigeria’s response to poor health indices and save about 4million lives of mothers, newborns and under-5 by 2022.

Speaking at an interactive media session organized by Development Communications Network, in collaboration with the Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON) in Abuja yesterday, a member of the HERFON, Dr. Seun Adeleke, said that the implementation of the National Health Act depended on government’s political will and Nigeria’s cumulative income.

He said: “ The Act will release about N50 billion annually, depending on Nigeria’s cumulative income, and therefore could save the lives of 3,131,510 mothers, newborns and under 5s by 2022.”

According to Adeleke, the Health Act also takes care of the incessant strikes in the health sector. “ Not less than 50% of the consolidated revenue will go to NHIS. It should be used to expand insurance for the public sector. Of the money, 20% is for vaccines, essential drugs, and commodities. They are cheap and are simple drugs that will amplify messages.

“ It is expected that 15% will go for laboratory facilities, infrastructure in hospitals, and simple equipment, which should go to the primary healthcare, just as 10% is voted for boosting human resources at healthcare facilities to guide midwives and 5% is allotted for emergency medicine at tertiary facilities to be coordinated by the Ministry of Health,” he stated.

He however noted that tackling maternal mortality and bringing it to zero level would begin with government’s commitment to timely allocation and release of money.

Coordinator, Africa Health Budget Network of the Community Health and Research Initiative, Dr. Aminu Magashi, said the alleged refusal of the federal, state and local governments to release funds that have been allocated in the 2015 health budget for payment of salaries of midwives in the country has been the major cause of the increased maternal mortality in Nigeria.

According to him, the fund that was expected to pay the salaries of midwives was never released to pay them, so the expected lives to be saved by 2022 could suffer setbacks, especially among expectant mothers.

“The money has been allocated in the budget but was not released to pay them. So the midwives cannot do magic as they have responsibilities too,” Magashi said.

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