By Abubakar Jimoh
Accountability for Maternal New-born and Child Health in Nigeria (AMHiN) has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately sign into law, National Health Bill presently awaiting Presidential assent, before end of the year.
In a statement issued during a protest held on Friday in Abuja, the group said, “Today marks the 19th day that the passed national health bill is submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan. The clock is ticking and we are approaching the 30 days expiration period upon which failure to assent the bill will render it invalid. Nigeria has entered an election mood which creates an exciting moment for Mr. President to assent to the bill.
“Currently, an insufficient amount of funds is allocated to health sector which is below 10% of the country’s annual budget over the last 8 years. We are now less than 500 days for the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), serious calls and fast actions are required to address the shortfalls in investment in maternal, newborn and child health.”
The group recalled that “The Nigerian Government specifically committed to: Reduce Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) from what it was previously to about 250/100,000 by September 2015; Commit to achieving the goal of a contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) of 36 % by 2018 to avert at least 31,000 maternal deaths; and Ensure the availability of Reproductive Health Commodities including lifesaving drugs for women and newborn in our secondary and primary health care facilities.”
“The 2013 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) had scored Nigeria poorly in many health indicators. Our MMR is put at 576 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births which was not significantly different from the ratio reported in the 2008 NDHS of 545/100,000.
“With all these challenges and meagre financial resources allocated to health sector, it is the national health bill when sign in to law will lead to actions that will inject at least 1% of the consolidated oil revenue to health sector annually which will be used to improve primary health care and national insurance scheme to ensure universal coverage. Thus impact positively on the poor health indices, mentioned above,” it bemoaned.