President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration places a very high premium on improving health care delivery and social welfare of Nigerians, according to Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udoma.

Udoma said this in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr Akpandem James, on Tuesday in Abuja.

Speaking at the opening of the ‘Value for Money in Health Sector Workshop’, Udoma said Buhari’s administration was prioritising health related expenditures in all the national budgets.

According to him, that is why in spite of the very tight revenue constraints and the demands of other competing sectors, the health sector has continued to receive increased allocations.

He said there was a reduction by 3.2 per cent of the aggregate Federal Government expenditure from N9.12 trillion in the 2018 budget to N8.83 trillion in the 2019 budget proposal.

Udoma, however, said an increase of eight per cent was proposed in the 2019 budget over the amount allocated for health in the 2018 budget.

He added that there was a need to ensure that these increased expenditures were actually improving healthcare outcomes.

“As we are able to demonstrate and show improved healthcare outcomes for the money we are currently spending, government at all levels will be encouraged to further increase funding to the health sector,” the minister said.

Udoma said that government would continue to be supportive of increased funding to the health sector and urged the workshop to examine and advise on innovative ways of doing so.

“It is even more critical that we institute key reforms to maximise the values derivable from the allocations to the healthcare sector through improved efficiency in the use of budgeted funds,” he said.

He emphasised that the workshop was to enable the participants to deliberate on how to achieve better outcomes for expenditure in the health sector.

“This is an important issue as most developing and middle-income countries, particularly those like Nigeria with large and rapidly growing populations.

“They need to find more effective and efficient ways of delivering quality health services to their citizens.

“This is why in the administration’s economic blueprint, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), one of the three principal objectives of the Plan is ‘Investing in our People.”

In particular, Udoma said in the ERGP, the Federal Government committed the country to investing in health and education in order to meet the international targets set under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Under the ERGP the country is committed to improving the accessibility, affordability and quality of healthcare,” the minister said.

Udoma drew attention to the fact that apart from the federal government, the various state governments and the local government councils have also been prioritising health expenditures in their budgets since responsibility for the health sector was constitutionally shared among all the tiers of government.

Spending by the sub-national governments, he said, must therefore, be taken into account in any assessment of the amount of public funds that is being expended in the health sector.

“Indeed, no meaningful discussion about improving healthcare in Nigeria can take place without involving the sub-national governments,” he said

Udoma, however, expressed the hope that the outcomes of the workshop would help shape public sector expenditure management practices at both the Federal and the sub-national levels, with respect to the health sector.