Experts provide technical assistance for strategic health budget reform ― FG
The Federal Government has disclosed that since 2018, Result for Development (R4D) in collaboration with the Sydani Group R4D/Sydani has been providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Health’s budget process reforms to make federal-level healthcare budgets more strategic.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire at the high-level sustainability meeting organised by R4D in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja said with the R4D/Sydani support, the ministry has instituted a collaboration mechanism between the Department of Health, Planning, Research, and Statistics (DHPRS) and Department of Finance and Accounts (DFA) in developing strategic healthcare budgets.
Represented by Deputy Director, Policy and Planning, Elisha Benjamin said it also developed and submitted annual strategic health budgets with at least 80% informed by annual operational plans (AOP) drawn from national health sector strategic priorities, and also developed an intermediate budget performance monitoring framework that tracks financial investments against health outcomes among others.
Ehanire maintained that the ministry budget process reform was aimed at addressing key challenges across the three phases of the budget process budget formulation, execution and monitoring, adding that over the past 3 years, improvements have been recorded.
Similarly, Country Director of R4D, Dr Hope Uweja, also said one of the key gains is that it has prepared the ministry to improve the alignment between the expenditure and budgeting in the country with national health priorities and policies.
“You now see a situation where more expenditure is going into areas that will give better value for money being spent for health both in terms of providing financing for primary healthcare and also targeting areas where expenditure for health is mostly expenditure for the needed, particularly for the vulnerable groups, maternal and child health and other areas that have been calling for attention in the past years.”
Also, the Health Economist with the World Health Organisation(WHO), Dr Francis Ukwuije, who represented the Country Representative, Walter Kazadi Mulombo said indeed, the budget is a very important thing in countries and is recognised as not just a technical tool but a political tool to help countries achieve their policies and these papers is in terms of what the country needs to spend towards achieving the strategic objectives and for health.
“We know it is universal health coverage for most countries, and indeed Nigeria could along that continuum of development of budget, allocation, appropriation, implementation, report reporting, and monitoring.
“There are key issues and key challenges which we have also identified within the country but in all over, we see that there are three main challenges.”
So one of those challenges is being able to align the budget to different sectors. And that is why you hear about evidence-based budgeting all the time.
“It’s not the case. In most countries, the answer is, especially in low and middle-income countries. The answer is no. One of the other challenges will be how to ensure that the budgets that we have actually appropriated and allocated especially to help are released,” He said.
In her goodwill message, the Health Financing Programme Officer at Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation, Dr Fidausi Umar Sadiq said stakeholders understand that the budgeting process is a very key and instrumental way for the government to advance universal healthcare agenda.
She said, “We know that if the budgeting process is done well, the annual operational plan is developed in line with the priorities of the country if the activities are spelt well, and they are costed, it is easier to defend a budget right or wrong.
“Now when we go on, we defend our budget and we’re able to do it successfully. We know that it’s now easier to be able to get some of those releases right or wrong.
“And if truly we are true to our word, and we’re able to monitor and evaluate the way that our budgets are implemented. It’s also an incentive for us to keep getting more releases just so that our absorptive capacity can actually be 100%, which we’re aiming for.”
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