By Justina Auta
The Federal Government on Tuesday said the country’s health budget allocation would be increased to 10 per cent.
Dr Salma Anas, the Special Adviser to the president on Health, disclosed this during the Gate field 2023 Health Summit in Abuja.
Anas highlighted the commitment of President Bola Tinubu’s administration towards strengthening the healthcare systems, improving the health and wellbeing of Nigerians for improved productivity.
According to her, the president’s unwavering support will explore innovative strategy that will guarantee and generate revenue for the country’s healthcare sector.
She said: “The President said he will increase allocation for health to start from 10 per cent of the total budgetary allocation, which must go to the health sector.
“Based on our demonstration of capacity to utilise, an indication of accountability, the president will increase more.
“The president is ready to support us with additional resources, this is because of his vision to reach 50 million vulnerable Nigerians through insurance coverage.’’
Anas added that more Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) facilities would be established, secondary healthcare facilities revamped to be a link and immediate referral for the PHCs facilities.
She said this would connect with the tertiary institutions to provide mentorship in capacity building for optimum healthcare services.
Dr Adamu Umar, the President, Nigerian Cancer Society and Co-Chair, National Action on Sugar Reduction Coalition, said that consuming Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) contributed to non-communicable diseases such as type two diabetes, cancer and heart diseases.
Umar said that an estimated 11.2 million Nigerians or one in 17 adults were living with Type two diabetes, and between 2007 and 2021 Nigeria recorded a growth in per-capita soft drinks sales from nine million to 14 million.
“The direct and indirect cost of obesity, Type two diabetes and other non-communicable diseases are staggering.
“The national direct cost of diabetes in Nigeria is estimated at 3.5 to 4.5 billion dollars per anum or N300,000 per patient.
“The burden of treating diabetes is more than Nigeria’s entire health budget,’’ he said.
Similarly, Dr Zainab Bagudu, the Founder, Medicaid Foundation, said increased taxation on SBBs taxes was introduced in 2022 to Nigeria after a lot of advocacies.
She said: “We must continue to advocate so that these funds can be earmarked to the health sector, in particular to the non-communicable diseases.
“We must work together to achieve our goal and hope that we will have very tangible outcome that we can follow through to improve the health sector and reduce out-of-pocket spending for ordinary Nigerians.’’
Ms Omei Bongos-Ikwue, Health Communication Specialist, Gatefield, said the summit was to awaken conversation around increased taxation on SSBs towards channelling the funds to the health system.
Bongos-Ikwue said: “What we are advocating for is 20 per cent tax, currently the N10 per cent litre tax is about 6.7 per cent.
“We ask for a higher tax so that whatever we raise as revenue can be substantial, relevant and channeled to healthcare, which we will feel the difference.’’
She, therefore, stressed the need for the implementation of governance mechanisms to ensure accountability mechanisms for the use of the tax revenue generated from SSBs. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Dorcas Jonah/Muhammad Suleiman Tola