Press Release

Assessing Nigeria’s Two-Decades Spending on The Health Sector – DRPC Webinar

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PACFah@Scale project is organizing a webinar as part of activities marking the 20th Anniversary of the Abuja Declaration. The Abuja Declaration was signed in Abuja, Nigeria, on 20th April 2001 when Health Ministers of African countries, including Nigeria, met and signed the Abuja Declaration pledged to commit 15% of their total annual budgets to the health sector.

The webinar, tagged – 20th Anniversary of the Abuja Declaration (2001-2021): Assessing the Two- Decades of Spending in the Health Sector; Why Allocation, Releases, and Utilization Persist? is to be moderated by Ms. Ada Ezeokoli, Editor In chief of the Nigeria Health Watch.

Speakers at the webinar include Dr. Afolabi Adejumo, Techincal Advisor to the Director-General of the Budget Office, Nigeria, Mr. Stanley Achonu, CSO Adviser, Open Government Partnership, Nigeria; Mr. Abel Akeni, Head, Research and Policy Advocacy, BudgIT, and Esther Faleye, Ex-Coordinator, Open Alliance, Nigeria.

In a statement signed by Dr. Stanley Ukpai, PACFaH@Scale Project Director, the webinar timely and essential given the current demands on health sector financing to address epidemics while at the same time continuing to provide Essential Health Services. This is the right time to reflect on fundamental questions on 20 years of health financing around – allocation, utilization, and releases.

Nigeria pledged 20 years ago in Abuja to ensure its 15% annual budgetary allocation to the sector. An in-depth review of national and state-level Health budgets between 2001 and 2021 reveals that this pledge was not met. The country’s highest allocation to the health sector in an annual budget was 6.08% in 2012. Therefore, the annual average budgetary allocation to the Health Sector over the past 20 years stands at 4.69%. These allocations were far less than the 15% Abuja Declaration commitment. Indeed, it represents a 10.31% shortfall. Nigerians need to ask questions about this.

Another question that Nigerians need to ask is why funds are returned to the public treasury every year since 2001 despite the low allocations of less than 15%? In addition to the poor releases, the funds have never been fully utilized by the Health sector MDAs . Inadequate absorptive capacity to use health sector funds allocated has led to the return of funds back to the treasury every year in the last 20 years.

In the webinar, speakers will endeavor to explain this anomaly and address critical questions of the factors affecting the utilization time? What are the systems or processes in place to optimize utilization? What can be done about late releases? Does the FMOH lack the adequate capacity to utilize the funds released? These questions and more indicate the complex nature of the health budgetary process that many citizens do not understand.

The webinar provides a rare opportunity for government, health finance experts, and civil society organizations to dialogue on the issues raised and proffer solutions from the options to address gaps identified.

All are welcome!

DATE: Tuesday, 20th April 2021/4/2021



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