Stakeholders on Lagos State Accountability Mechanism for Maternal and Newborn Health (LASAM) have tasked Governor Babajide Sanwoolu on premium Maternal, Child Health through improved budgets and prompt releases of funds.
LASAM stakeholders at the presentation of the 2018 Health Budget Scorecard lamented the poor performance of the 2018 Health budget under the last Administration which they noted lacked, “transparency and suffered poor adherence to timely releases of funds”.
The task on Governor Sanwoolu followed his campaign promise to put issue of maternal, child health on the front burner of the Lagos “THEME Project”.
LASAM which is a body comprising Civil Societies Organisation on Evidence, Advocacy and Knowledge Management and Accountability Sub-Committees though applauded the state for improving on the budgetary allocation to health to about eight percent in 2018, noted, it suffered in performance because “funds were not released promptly to support maternal, child health”.
The body also noted that allocation less than 15% is still a far cry to the recommended budgets by World Health Organisation (WHO).
LASAM urged the Governor to make concerted effort to correct the poor indicators recorded in maternal, child health as a result of the poor adherence to budget releases which has continued to account for stock-out of commodities as well as marginal increases in uptake of contraception among women of reproductive age groups.
Presenting the Health Budget Scorecard, Chairman, Evidence Sub-Committee, LASAM, Mr. Basit Baruwa noted that contrary to the global standards of which the State was known, especially in timely release of budgeted funds for health, “In the last four years, the state poorly adhered to timely release of its budget for health in 2017 and 2018 respectively, to the parastatal and departments thus leading to poor performance in key areas of the sector”.
According to Basit, “Evidence available to the sub-committee as at May 2018, showed that the enacted budget was not publicly available hence, the good health promised Lagosians on maternal,child health could obviously not readily be accessed”.
Although the State experienced a considerable large stock-out of essential life-saving commodities in about 50% of its Primary Healthcare facilities between January and June 2018, but recovered from such stock-out after some intervention with only 10 PHCs experiencing continued stock-out, the score card revealed.
According to Head of Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, Primary Healthcare Board, Mrs. Folarin Williams, the stock out of life saving commodities in many of the Primary Healthcare centres became evident in the first half of 2018 because there were no funds to procure the commodities especially in the first three months of the year for maternal, child health.
“But immediately there was some release of intervention fund, there were procurement made of essential life-saving commodities from the central stores, hence we saw large number of commodities available through the rest of the year”, said Williams.
Perhaps the most affected of the indicators for performance of the State’s health scorecard was in the maternal, newborn and child health as the State scorecard was a mixed bag of insufficient progress (less than 50%), some progress (between 50% -74%) and good progress (75% -100%).
For example, there was a slight increase in the number of pregnant women who reported for antenatal care in the first 20 weeks from 44% between January and June; to 45%, between July and December, 2018.
However, the number of fully immunized children between January and June of 2018 was 35% and this, slightly increased to 37% between July and December 2018.
From the scorecard, the percentage of Nigerian women resident in Lagos between ages 15 to 49 years using any method of modern contraception remained low; with a slight increase from 2% in June to 5% by December 2018.
LASAM therefore request the administration of Governor Sanwoolu to ensure strict adherence to annual budget calendar by commencing in July and ending in December.
The members called on the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget to ensure draft budget is published online to enhance public access in planning process.
They urged the Ministry of Health to promptly develop and track releases based on the work plan developed while Ministry of Finance ensures at least 70% of budget funds are released on time.