Ministry, WHO, NCDC make urgent call for increased funding for health

 The WHO, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Tuesday issued urgent call for increased funding for the health sector in Nigeria.

The ministry and the NCDC, supported by Resolve to Save Lives, an NGO, made the call hosting a multisectoral workshop on ”Health Security and Health Financing’.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that in 2018, Nigeria launched a five year comprehensive multi-sectoral National Action Plan on Health Security (NAPHS).

Speaking , the Director-General, Budget Office of Federation (BoF), Mr Ben Akabueze, said the workshop was an advocacy call to increase funding for implementation of the NAPHS and explore opportunities to cascade it to the sub-national level.

”If anybody had any doubts prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, or about the need to strengthen the Nigerian health system, or any doubts at all, it has been resolved by the COVID-19.

““The International Health Regulations (IHR), last revised in 2005 requires Nigeria, as a third party, to provide for the financing of its health system and other related activities and as an obligation in its annual budget,” he explained.

He noted that the workshop would improve the knowledge of thematic leads identified in the National Action Plan on Health Security on the national budgeting process.

“It will equip budget officers in the MDAs with the ability to mainstream budget for health securities in their annual budget, create the necessary synergy between budget officers and the NAPHS technical leads.

”It is hoped that the workshop will establish the needed budget lines within key MDAs to strengthen health security activities outlined in NAPHS for 2021,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the World Health Organization(WHO), Dr Rex Mpanzanje suggested that Nigeria should ensure adequate framework for financing epidemic preparedness and response.

“As a country, we need to stand on our own feet and not solely rely on external financing,” Mpanzanje advised.

Also contributing,  Dr Chike Ihekweazu, Director-General of the NCDC, said that the preparedness for future outbreaks, starts from the budgeting stage.

“Investing in preparedness is much cheaper than response. But, how, where, and by who?” he asked.

Ihekweazu said in 2020, stakeholders worked hard to scale up our ability to respond to infectious diseases and strengthen our health systems nationwide with support from the Federal government and partners.

The NCDC boss noted that Nigeria must ensure health security remains a national priority.

D. Emmanuel Agogo, Country Representative for Resolve to Safe Lives, said that previous and ongoing outbreaks were evidence of how critical funding was to drive all aspects of public health response.

“We can not over estimate the impact and importance of this workshop,” Dr Agogo stressed.

NAN reports that the NAPHS is a comprehensive document that aims to address major gaps identified in a 2017 Joint External Evaluation (JEE) of Nigeria’s International Health Security (IHR) core capacities.  (NAN)