Connected Development (CODE) and BudgIT, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have called on the Federal Government to seek sustainable funding for primary healthcare systems in Nigeria.
The CSOs made the call at a meeting to build momentum for health care accountability organized by CODE and BudgIT with support from Conrad Hilton Foundation and Skoll Foundation in Abuja.
The meeting which was part of the activities on implementing the second phase of the COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability Project (CTAP) was aimed at tracking all funds and donations made in support of the Federal Government COVID-19 intervention.
Assistant Manager, BudgIT, Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa, who spoke on `Strengthening Formidable Partnerships for Accountability ‘’the group in the course of their work observed that most primary healthcare centres need a facelift.
“These centres are the first point of call to an average Nigerian where they go first to access care before they can be referred to general hospitals.
“So, when you are going to your first call and it is not well equipped, it does not put you in an advantageous position, it sets you back further.
“So, we are recommending that the centres should be revamped and we also hope that the federal government can put more funds into research and development.
“At the end of the day, we need to also understand that without proper research, we are going to just be imbibing whatever has been concluded in the other climes.
“We need to be able to put our foot down as the giant of Africa that we are.’’
Bolarinwa also called for more investment in the health sector and the need to implement the Abuja declaration by committing 15 per cent of the budget to healthcare.
He urged the government to tackle the issue of brain drain by empowering medical personnel to remain in the country to service citizens.
Also speaking, Mr Hamza Lawal Founder of Follow the Money and the Chief Executive Officer of CODE, said that the COVID-19 pandemic showed that Nigeria’s fiscal accountability mechanism was not so strong.
Lawal said that the group began monitoring the N38 billion raised in the Coalition Against COVID-19(CACOVID) a private sector-led organization established to assist the government in combating the Coronavirus disease.
“Today, we are having an important conversation with civil society partners and the media to galvanise action around COVID-19.
“However, this time around, we are more focused on how Nigeria and Africa can prepare for the next pandemic because COVID-19 literally brought us to our knees.
“We want to ensure that one, we are able to put in place a framework of fiscal accountability, two, we are able to also invest in primary health care because we know the centres play a critical role when we experience a pandemic. ‘’
Lawal added that the aim of the group’s work was to also educate citizens on COVID-19 while encouraging them to take the vaccines.
This, he said was because a lot of citizens were not taking the jabs due to the distrust, misinformation and disinformation.
“I believe that this conversation with the media and civil society partners would help set a pace on how we can engage, how we can get the needed funding and investment for primary health care centres.
“It will set a pace on how Nigeria can lead other African countries to prepare for another pandemic because another pandemic is just around the corner,’’ he said.
Contributing, Mr Busayo Morakinyo, Community Engagement Director of CODE assessed the Federal Government ‘s intervention performance on Primary Health centres (PHC).
“Findings by the Follow the Money initiative in communities indicated that most of the centres fell below the minimum Primary Health Care standard.
“Findings also revealed that they lacked electricity, 30 per cent of the PHC have no access to clean water.
“Interviews with some of the community indigenes shows that they rely on rainwater and well water stored in the tanks.
“Fifty-six out of 90 PHCs assessed, have the recommended pharmaceutical fridge to host vaccines while some of the PHCs received less than 10 vials of Covid-19 vaccine.”
Morakinyo said that NPHCDA recently outlined plans for the transformation of PHCs to provide services aligned with the basic needs of the community, link individuals to PHC services, keep and transmit records.
He however said that most of the things on the ground were observed in the course of the report were not seen to reflect the plan.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)reports that Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), had at a different event attested to the fact that poor infrastructure and the poor staff were hampering operations of PHC.
Shuaib had therefore said that the Agency had plans to transform the centres.