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WHD 2023: Why Nigeria is far below 15 percent Abuja Declaration on improved healthcare –WHO

*Dr. Walter Mulombo, WHO Country Representative to Nigeria, explains health is a human right and not a luxury or consumable, and the more politically wise decisions the country makes will benefit the citizenry

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has disclosed factors responsible for Nigeria’s inability to meet the 2001 15 percent Abuja Declaration on improving the health sector of the West African country’s economy.

ConsumerConnect reports Dr. Walter Mulombo, WHO Country Representative to Nigeria, who stated this in a chat with reporters in Abuja, FCT, attributed this to poor funding and lack of political will to actualise the lofty objective.

It was on the occasion of April 7 of every year dedicated by the United Nations (UN) as World Health Day (WHD), and 2023 also marked the 75th anniversary of the organisation.

The day’s theme was: “Health for All -Strengthening Primary Health Care to Build Resilient Systems”.

It is also recalled that in April 2001, Heads of States of African Union (AU) countries met and pledged to set a target of allocating at least 15 percent of their annual budget to improve the health sector in the country.

Mulombo stated: “In Nigeria where a proposed target was set that 15 percent of total government budget should go to health, until today we are still far from achieving the target.”

The WHO Country Representative also advocated more funding for the health sector in Nigeria to meet the said target.

According to him, the sector has not been adequately funded, compared to areas such as Defence, and Army, among others.

Mulombo further explained that health is a human right and not a luxury or consumable, the more politically wise decisions the country makes now will benefit this country and its citizens.

The WHO chief said: “We need to start talking about human rights violations because it is not acceptable for any child to miss a vaccine.”

He as well noted some areas where the health accessed indicated that 80 percent of the money went into tertiary hospitals.

Dr. Mulombo opined the primary healthcare is where 80 percent of the population in the communities get their first exposure to healthcare services.

He further stated: “The spending itself is distorted. That is the biggest challenge that has generated everything that we have seen.

“Lack of adequate budget to prepare responses to pandemic for instance, we have to struggle in many places.”

The main challenge is the way health is featured as a political choice, and unfortunately many governments did not live by standard, said he.

The WHO top official said: “Many countries continue to consider health as luxury or something that is costing the government money whereas it should have been taken like an enabling factor for economic and socio-economic development.”

Mulombo stressed it was worrisome the way countries were dealing with social determinants of health as factors such as socioeconomic status, education, neighborhood and physical environment, employment, and social support networks and access to healthcare.

He noted that addressing social determinants of health is important for improving health and reducing longstanding disparities in health and healthcare.

Mulombo, therefore, advocated more facilities with dialysis machines and more expensive equipment to combat the noncommunicable diseases as such was part of the organisation’s challenges.

WHO also had the challenges of demographic transition because the facilities that were used during the colonial period were still the same in Africa, although t may be possible that Nigeria had same situation, he stated.

Mulombo added: “The country is not expending in the space of demographic transition and the way the population is increasing, Nigeria is projected to have more than 400 million population by 2040, 2050.”

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