A medical practitioner, Dr Tunji Akintade, on Wednesday appealed to the Federal Government to increase its annual budgetary allocation to the nation’s health sector in line with the Abuja Declaration of 2001. Akintade spoke in an interview with newsmen in Lagos, while commenting on the incessant strikes by health workers.
Akintade is the current Chairman of the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN), Lagos Chapter, said the Abuja Declaration was signed in 2001 in Nigeria by all member countries of the African Union, including Nigeria.
It recommended that at least, 15% of annual budget, be allocated to health sector, while the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended 13%. The health budget allocation for 2017 is a meagre 4.15% which is N304 billion, though a marginal improvement on the 3.73% figure of N221.7 billion in 2016. The medical practitioner said that the Federal Government should increase budgetary allocations to the health sector to avoid incessant strikes by the health workers.
Akintade, who is also the Medical Director, Hamaab Medical Centre, said that increment of health budget by 15 per cent every year would reduce strikes and meet the health workers’ demands. He said that the recurring strike by workers in the nation’s health institutions would affect effective healthcare system in the country.
He says: “I think what they should fight for is increment in health budget. Once the government increase the budget, it will solve issues of salaries, allowances, inadequate facilities, poor working environment, among others. Doctors should realise that most of the patients they treat might be friends, family members and other people, because most of the government officials travel outside the country for treatment. Going on strike regularly will affect the patients and effective healthcare delivery in all the health institutions.”
Akintade appealed to both the Federal Government and resident doctors to put things in place by considering people that were in need of healthcare services. According to WHO, for Nigeria to be seen to prioritise healthcare, it must at the least spend a minimum of N6,908 per Nigerian in a year. “When multiplied by 180 million people, it will amount to N1.2 trillion, as against the current N304 billion allocated to healthcare for 2017. “If N1.2 trillion is budgeted and spent on healthcare for a year, it will go a long way in solving significant health issues in the country.”