January 28, 2022

Despite Increase in Health Budget, Nigeria is yet to address the critical infrastructure gap in the Health Sector

Promise: To ensure at least a 5% increase in the funding for health allocation in the 2021 budget towards addressing critical infrastructure gaps; shortage of drugs, equipment, and consumables, strengthening research capability in health institutions; and address human resource challenges in the health sector especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abiola Durodola
Last Updated
January 28, 2022
min read

With the prevailing health care crisis in the country and the entrance of the COVID-19 pandemic into Nigeria, the Nigerian House of Representatives in its legislative agenda document promised to increase health care funding by at least 5% of the current health allocation in the 2021 budget.

During a training organized in Lagos by the office of the speaker, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, for health workers, the speaker further reiterated that the green chamber, in response to the pandemic, remains resolute to providing funds that will address the shortage of drugs and human resources challenges in the health sector.

In the 2021 budget, the sum of N549.8 billion was allocated to health while N414.5 billion was allocated to health in the 2020 revised Federal budget. The health budget in 2021 was 4.18% of the total Federal budget an increase compared to 3.83% in the revised 2020 budget. The figure further shows an increase of 9.06% to the 2020 allocation in the federal budget.

Also, the proposed allocation to the capital budget of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency in the 2021 budget shows an increase from N18.1 billion to N19.9 billion, representing an increase of 9.9%. The recurrent budget was also increased from N2.4 billion to N3.2 billion, an increase of 34.1%. Thus, the overall budget increased from N20.5 billion in the revised 2020 to N23.1 billion in the proposed 2021 budget, representing an increase of 12.7%.

With the current global health crisis, this should be the best time for the implementation of the Abuja Declaration to meet the distribution of vaccines and improve our fight against malaria. In the face of a global pandemic, Nigeria’s health sector is still mired with a plethora of problems such as shortage of staff and lack of modern equipment.

The 2021 budget increase in Nigeria is expected to close the gap and address prevailing health issues, but the country once again failed to meet the Abuja Declaration which stipulates that Africa Union (AU) countries should allocate, at least, 15 per cent of the country’s annual budget to health.

Similarly, the National Assembly noted that there will be a budgetary provision and oversight to upgrade and equip at least two teaching or specialist hospitals in each of the six geo-political zones to effectively provide accessible and affordable medical care for citizens in these regions. In the 2021 health budget, 415.24 billion naira (75.5%) represents the recurrent – operational – expenditure while 134.59 billion (24.5%) was for capital projects. In the 2021 budget, more than 21 teaching hospitals and specialist hospitals were provided with capital allocation.

However, the budgetary increase is yet to address the country’s infrastructure gap and human resources challenges as Nigeria’s health care sector continues to face a brain drain. According to Nigeria Medical Association President, of about 75,000 Nigerian doctors that were registered with the body, over 33,000 had left the country, leaving behind only about 42,000 to man all health institutions in the country.  The president further noted that in rural areas, there is one doctor to 22,000 people, while in urban areas there is one doctor to 10,000 Nigerians or one doctor to 12 000 Nigerians, whereas the World Health Organization (WHO) said for any country to have a balanced ratio, it must have one doctor to 600 persons.

While the HoR had addressed part of this promise, the green chamber is yet to fulfil its promise about other salient issues raised in its document.

Therefore, we rate this promise Compromise