By Jereaghogho Efeturi Ukusare
The 1% Consolidated Revenue Fund for Primary Healthcare included in the budget of Nigeria as part of the country’s 2018 Appropriation Bill that was recently passed into law is an example of responsive leadership in Africa. The implication of this is that poor families in Nigeria will be able to get free health care. With the prevalence of malaria especially and other diseases in Nigeria that are usually quite expensive for poor Nigerian families, this is a boost not only to the health sector but also to the Nigerian economy. Nigeria looses millions of dollars in cost in the purchase of malaria drugs annually. A trend that this will not stop but take away the burden from poor families.
The 1% of the national budget allocated to Primary Healthcare will also reduce the high rate of both maternal and infant mortality related deaths in the country. Statistics show that 10% of infant and maternal mortality in the world occurs in Nigeria.
While this seems to be one cheering news out of Africa, it is quite pertinent to place emphasis on the management of the fund. There must be prudence in the administration of the fund for it to have any meaningful impact in the society. There was high level of corruption in the NHIS scheme, this fund is also susceptible to such. It is recommended that the Nigerian government sets in motion a mechanism that would prevent corrupt practices, mismanagement and diversion of the fund from its original purpose into the hands of individuals or for political purposes.
It is expected that there would be fiscal accountability in the management of this fund to the benefit of poor Nigerians.