President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday said the Senate has mandated its relevant Committee to ensure an improvement in the implementation of the budgetary allocation to the nation’s primary healthcare system.
Lawan made the promise while receiving in audience the Global Alliance for Vaccination Initiative (GAVI) high level mission to Nigeria.
Lawan said, “Let me start by appreciating you, GAVI, for so much care and concerns for Nigerians having spent about a billion dollars helping us in the areas of vaccination and immunisation.
“You deserve serious commendation by our country. We are also particularly excited that you are doing so much and therefore we need also to improve on what we do here in our country.
“Having spent so much resources for us, we made it clear in the last Senate that Nigeria needed to also put more resources and that is why we passed the one percent budgetary allocation to ensure total coverage.
“Implementation has not been satisfactory but we have tasked our current committee on health to ensure that implementation of the one percent that translates into about N55 billion annually should be improved.”
Lawan noted that prevention of diseases through immunisation and vaccination would ensure healthier population for the nation, and assured of the commitment and capacity of the National Assembly to achieve it.
While conceding that much was not achieved in the health sector, the Senate President said, ” at the moment we feel we can do more and far better than we did honestly”.
Senate President cited the competing demands for resources as main hindrance to implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of devoting 26 percent of budget to health sector.
“I think no amount or percentage is too much for our health, but of course a country that has so many challenges and competing demands for resources will continue to prioritize in such a manner that health sector is not disadvantaged,” he said.
He appreciated GAVI for its numerous projects towards immunisation and vaccinations programmes and assured that Nigeria would also redouble its efforts to achieve total coverage.
“We appreciate the financial and technical support you are given us, but you will be encouraged better if you see us also improving because whatever one is doing for you, if he sees you doing well he feel encouraged to do more for you,” Lawan said.
He said although the 2020 budget had been passed and assented to, the National Assembly is ready to offer required legislative attention to support primary health care system in particular and the health sector in general.
“Where we feel we need to intervene we will do so even if it requires that we come through supplementary appropriation,” he said.
Earlier in his address, the Chief Executive Officer of GAVI, Dr. Seth Berkley said although much had been achieved in the area of immunisation there was still much to be done to ensure total coverage.
Berkley lauded the National Assembly for allocating percent of the nation’s budget to primary healthcare system and placing it on a first line charge item.
He however warned that non implementation of the allocation posed a threat to the success of the nation’s primary healthcare system.
The GAVI Alliance Mission was accompanied by the Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Sha’aibu; former Minister of State for Health, Prof. Ali Pate and officials of Federal Ministry of Health.