ABUJA, May 24 (IPS) – The Chief Accountant of Nigeria, the administrative head of the country’s treasury, has arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly stealing 80 billion naira ($134 million). This is an amazing theft in an estimated country poverty rate 95 million VND (48% of the population) and some of the worst health indicators in the world.
As an advocate for universal health coverage and universal health equality, I know that Nigeria’s health system will be stronger and better functioning by stopping these leaks and allocating resources. capital to provide universal health coverage to all Nigerians.
Indeed, stealing public funds denies millions of people health care, with dire health consequences. These include citizens living with chronic debilitating illness, loss of productivity, growing poverty, and even death. In our country, about 58,000 dead women during pregnancy and childbirth every year; and 1 in 8 children did not live to see their 5th birthday. Simply put, corruption is a matter of life and death.
Here are five examples of how the missing 80 billion naira could improve the health of Nigerians if recycled.
First, 80 billion naira will fund President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan to provide health insurance to 83 million poor Nigerians, as part of his implementation of the new National Health Insurance Authority Act. which he just signed into law.
Furthermore, the 80 billion naira shortfall is 114 times the 701 million naira budgeted for the defunct National Health Insurance Program by 2022. It is not surprising that the Scheme did not reach the coverage rate. National health insurance coverage up to 5% over the past 18 years.
The compulsory health insurance scheme is one way to achieve universal health coverage for Nigerians as out-of-pocket spending at a time when healthcare pushes people into poverty. Isn’t it ironic that millions of Nigerians are pushed into poverty as they access healthcare and the accountant is accused of stealing 80 billion naira? This is a classic case of suffering in the midst of many difficulties.
Second, the 80 billion naira stolen could fund tertiary health care for the millions of Nigerians who access care in teaching hospitals. The University of Lagos Teaching Hospital, the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, the University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital, the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and the Jos University Teaching Hospital have a budget of 78 billion naira for 2022.
Teaching hospitals do more than just provide tertiary health care. They also provide primary and secondary health care services. In addition, they train medical students and other medical professionals. They are also a training ground for specialized doctors to become consultants.
Third, the 80 billion naira stolen is 13 times more than the 6 billion naira that is jointly budgeted for the National Obstetric Fistula Centers in Abakaliki, Bauchi and Katsina states by 2022. World Health Organization describe An obstetric fistula is an abnormal opening between a woman’s genital tract and the urinary tract or rectum.
This is due to a prolonged delay in labor and affects more than 2 million young women globally. The abnormal opening leads to leakage of urine and/or stool from the vagina. Obstetric leaks destroy women’s dignity. Victims are ostracized, stigmatized and lost their economic power. It says you smell the victim before you see them.
That is the great burden that the victims carry. In Nigeria, popularity obstetric fistula rate is 3.2 per 1000 births. There are 13,000 new cases annually. A review of obstetric fistulas in Nigeria found that backlogs can take 83 years to clear.
In contrast, 80 billion naira stolen will shorten the time to resolve this backlog. I know from my experience as a sponsor. In 2012, I led public health initiatives at the TY Danjuma Foundation. A one-year grant of 11 million naira awarded to a grantee in Kano State, northwest Nigeria who provided surgical repair of obstetric fistulas; training medical staff in repairing and taking care of patients; economic empowerment for patients; and mobilize the community to discourage child marriage and encourage childbirth at health facilities.
Fourth, the missing 80 billion naira if allocated to the National Primary Health Care Development Authority will improve the procurement, distribution and management of COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria. Indeed, that is more than three times the 24 billion naira allocated to the NPHCDA in 2022.
So far, Nigeria has largely depended on the generosity of vaccines funded by rich countries like the US through the COVAX facility. This is not sustainable. Recent news from South Africa revealed that Aspen Pharmacare may stop production of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine because African countries do not place orders as expected.
At a cost $7.50 per dose For Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, $134 million will purchase 18 million doses to vaccinate Nigerians and help the country achieve herd immunity as quickly as possible. Nigerians should not fight against COVID-19 vaccine inequality across the globe amid widespread looting of national coffers.
In the end, the 80 billion naira stolen was 1.5 times the amount budgeted for the 54 billion naira Basic Health Care Supply Fund. According to with the National Primary Health Care Development Authority, which aims to improve access to primary health care by providing the usual costs of operating primary health centres, and ensure access to health care for all, especially the poor, by contributing to national productivity. 80 billion naira increases the number of poor and vulnerable Nigerians who can access health care through the Basic Health Care Delivery Fund.
Sadly, while still trying to accept the charges against the general accountant, there is more news of fraud in Nigeria. A former Executive Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission has been arrested for allegedly stealing 47 billion naira. In addition, the only woman to have served as a speaker of the Federal House of Representatives of Nigeria was also arrested for 130 million naira cheat.
These thefts must stop, and funds should go where they are needed most: funding healthcare. Without health, we have nothing.
© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service