FG captures activation of vulnerable group fund in 2024 budget

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By Chidinma Ewunonu-Aluko

The Federal Government (FG) said on Friday that the 2024 budget captured the activation of the Vulnerable Group Fund to improve healthcare system delivery and reduce citizens’ out-of-pocket expenses.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Sen. Ipalibo Banigo, disclosed this when the committee visited the University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan.

Banigo said the fund had been in the National Health Act since 2014 but was never appropriated or activated.

According to her, the fund targets health insurance coverage for vulnerable groups such as children under five, pregnant women, elderly above 60, disabled persons and internally displaced persons.

“The activation of the fund, which will start from this 2024 budget, will go to the National Health Insurance Authority, from there it will flow to the state insurance.

“This will enable them to record the persons under these groups in all the communities across the country, that way, we will reduce out-of-pocket expenses that our people suffer from.

“It will enhance the healthcare delivery and reduce the continual out-of-pocket expenses leading our people to more poverty,” she said.

Banigo emphasised that the government was passionate about improving health equipment and infrastructure to make the atmosphere optimal and fulfilling for health workers to stay in the country.

“We want to encourage them to stay back home and work, that is part of the renewed hope we have to achieve in this tenure,” she said.

She noted that the visit was part of the committee’s mandate of overseeing secondary and tertiary health institutions under the FG.

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Banigo added that it was also to find out what was appropriated in the 2023 budget, the institutions’ constraints and achievements.

“We have gone around to see some ongoing projects in the hospital; our health sector needs to improve to meet the global standards.

“UCH has a very big role to play, so we encourage them to do more.

“While we commend their efforts so far, we have noted issues that need to be put in place to make the hospital a very glorious one,” she said.

Meanwhile, UCH Chief Medical Director (CMD), Prof. Jesse Otegbayo, remarked that the nation could, through dialogue, cooperation and shared vision, address challenges in the healthcare system.

This, he said, would also pave way for a healthier future for Nigerians.

Otegbayo, represented by UCH Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC), Dr Abiodun Adeoye, said UCH was dear to many as a beacon of excellence in healthcare delivery, education and research.

“For over six decades, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to providing compassionate care, advancing medical knowledge and training the next generation of healthcare professionals.

“Together, we have the opportunity to identify key areas for improvement, implement evidence-based policies and ensure that every Nigerian has access to high-quality and affordable healthcare.

“Our dedicated team of healthcare professionals are ready to collaborate with the Senate committee on health to address the pressing issues facing our institution,” Otegbayo said.

He, however, advocated special funding for electricity bills to alleviate the hospital’s challenge of incessant disconnection by the power distribution company.

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The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that heads of some teaching hospitals in the South-West zone of the country presented summaries of their 2023 budget performance.

They include Prof. John Okeniyi, CMD of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife; Prof. Ebenezer Ajayi of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Ido-Ekiti, and CMD of Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Dr Ahmed Adeagbo.

According to the medical directors, the major challenges faced by their institutions are electricity, water shortage, inadequate manpower personnel and poor funding. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Moses Solanke

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