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Improving healthcare, priority of Buhari’s administration – Udoma

Joseph Inokotong, Abuja

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, has said that improving healthcare is one of the priorities of the Buhari administration and is why the health sector has continued to receive increased allocations.

The minister who stated this in Abuja while declaring open a health workshop, said this can be seen in the prioritization of health related expenditures in all the national budget.

He explained that even with a reduction by 3.2 per cent of the aggregate federal government expenditure, from N9.120 trillion in the 2018 budget to N8.83 trillion in the 2019 budget proposal, an increase of 8 per cent was proposed in the 2019 budget over the amounts allocated for health in the 2018 budget.

Udoma however, added that there is a need to ensure that these increased expenditures are actually improving healthcare outcomes.

“It is a workshop that will focus on how we can improve value for money. As we are able to demonstrate and show improved healthcare outcomes for the money we are currently spending, governments at all levels will be encouraged to further increase funding to the health sector,” he added.

While indicating that government will continue to be supportive of increased funding to the health sector and would like the workshop to examine, and advise on innovative ways of doing so, he stated that “it is even more critical that we institute key reforms to maximize the values derivable from the allocations to the healthcare sector through improved efficiency in the use of budgeted funds.”

A statement by the Special Adviser (Media and Communication) to the Minister, Akpandem James said he stressed that the workshop is 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 need to find more effective and efficient ways of delivering quality health services to their citizens,” he maintained.

According to him, the Buhari administration places a very high premium on improving healthcare delivery and social welfare of the people, adding that “this is why in the administration’s economic blueprint, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), and one of the three principal objectives of the plan is investing in our people.”

“In particular, in the ERGP the federal government commits 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,” Udoma stated.

The minister drew attention to the fact that apart from the federal government, the various states as well as local government councils have also been prioritizing health expenditures in their budgets since responsibility for the health sector is constitutionally shared amongst all the tiers government.