From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
An international organization working to support and protect children worldwide, Save The Children, on Wednesday officially launched a four-year (2021-2024) health and nutrition advocacy project funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Kaduna State.
The project which was designed to contribute to significant changes in mobilizing domestic resources for health (financing), strengthen and protect civil society engagement (accountability) and creating a supportive policy environment (policy), is expected to improve the living standard of Nigerian citizens living in Kaduna State.
Presenting the overview of the project at a hotel in Kaduna, Project Manager, Ifedili Innocent lamented that, the state of healthcare infrastructure in Nigeria remains very poor due to inadequate budgetary provision, releases and efficient utilization of available resources.
According to him, Nigeria Health Watch stated in one of its reports that the health sector was reduced to a less significant sector in terms of Nigeria’s national priorities during the last five-year’s annual budgets.
“In 2014, the presidential summit on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) held in Nigeria, recognized that health is a fundamental human right.
“They also added that UHC holds the key to unlocking the door for equitable, qualitative and universally accessible healthcare for all Nigerians without suffering financial hardship.
“Out-of-Pocket household spending on the average is 69.7% of Total Health Expenditure (THE) compared to the benchmark of 3040%.
“Households are exposed to catastrophic health spending and high welfare losses as more than 99% of OOP spent on curative care, leaving no room for preventive care”, he decried.
Innocent called on both the State and the Federal government to maintain the current percent of health budgets but ensure the approved budgets are implemented 100 percent by prompt release and cashback of approved funds.
He said, the capacity of civil society organizations, ward development committees, Child right advocacy clubs, media and others would be enhanced to communicate in a manner that would change the behaviour of policymakers leading to efficient utilization of available resources in the social sector
At the end of the day, the project will contribute to creating an enabling environment that will lead to improved implementation of health and nutrition policies, strategies and plans at National and Kaduna state among others, he added.
In her goodwill message, Commissioner, Ministry of Health, Amina Baloni who was represented by a Director in the Ministry thanked the organisation for supporting health care deliveries in the State.
Kaduna State House of Assembly, Kaduna State Ministry of Health, Ministry of Human Services and Social Development, UNICEF, Lafiya, civil society and health journalists were well represented at the launch.