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The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and other beneficiaries of the N12.7 billion Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) have been charged to ensure expeditious and transparent use of the money toward addressing critical issues in the health sector.

Dr Aminu Magashi, Member, National Advocates for Health (N4H) and National Coordinator, Community Health and Research Initiative, gave the charge on Thursday in Abuja.

Magashi spoke during a technical session with the media on Health Budget and Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

“We are sending clear a message to state governments and other federal agencies to know that the money is meant for Nigerians through them and that they must deliver; there must be no excuse whatsoever,’’ he said.

He said that the Federal Ministry of Health, through its Treasury Single Account (TSA) on BHCPF, disbursed N12.7 billion as of May 17, 2019.

Magashi added that the amount represented the 25 per cent of the N55 billion approved by the National Assembly in the 2018 budget as BHCPF for the year.

He disclosed that N51 billion was approved as BHCPF in the 2019 budget.

Magashi said that the funds were disbursed as mandated by the National Health Act, 2014, which provided for BHCPF.

He stated that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) received N6.5 billion; National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) N5.8 billion, while the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) got N327 million.

“The NHIS is expected to use the money to provide health insurance to the vulnerable groups all over the country, which include pregnant women, children under five years and others.

“The NPHCDA is expected to use its own money to improve the primary health care system, strengthen immunisation, provide life-saving drugs and other commodities as well as renovate and put in place all the necessary facilities for PHC.

“The NCDC is also expected to use the money to improve disease outbreak preparation and ensure that epidemics are controlled in Nigeria,” he explained.

Magashi urged the agencies to ensure that the money was judiciously used so that in the next few months, ‘we can see quality healthcare delivery across the country’.

He, however, noted that only 50 per cent of the BHCPF for 2018 was released as at May 17, 2019, while the additional 25 per cent of the fund earlier approved would be released in August.

Magashi disclosed that nine states and FCT had already benefitted from the scheme, stressing that the 25 per cent that was approved but not yet disbursed would be released to 12 more states.

Mrs Moji Makanjuola, the Executive Director, International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH), charged media professionals to help in tracking health funds to ensure their judicious use.

Makanjuola represented by Mr Solomon Dogo, the Programme Officer, ISMPH, said many needless deaths could be avoided if the funds are utilised judiciously.

She regretted that many media practitioners had also succumbed to the cold hands of death owing to the failed health system.

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