The Senate on Wednesday hinted that the National Assembly may request supplementary budget from the executive for funds needed for 2017-2018 campaign against measles.
Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa, Chairman, Senate Committee on Primary Healthcare and Communicable Diseases, gave the indication when he received a delegation of Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) in Abuja.
He said that the national assembly was aware that Nigeria was to provide a counterpart funding of about 11 million dollars (about N3 billion) for the measles campaign during the period.
“There is no appropriation for this campaign in 2017 budget, but I want to assure you that the national assembly is aware of the enormity of the situation,” Ohuabunwa said.
He urged GAVI to pre-fund activities for the campaign pending when the operational funds from the organisation and the Federal Government would be released.
He said the gesture would not only keep the momentum on the measles campaign but maintain the pressure established on measles control over the years.
He pledged the commitment of the national assembly to re-positioning the health care system in Nigeria.
“The National Assembly has been very conscious of the need to re-engineer our health care sector and took the bold step of setting up the Committee for Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases in the past two years.
“The goal of this committee is to drive on the required efficiency and accountability of our many partnerships such as with GAVI, which continue to have great impact on our primary health care delivery.
“These, I believe, should indeed rekindle GAVI’s confidence in dealing with Nigeria, especially in up-scaling the partnership and the support in the country,’’ the lawmaker said.
Earlier, GAVI’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Seth Berkley, who led the delegation, decried the ranking of Nigeria as highest among countries with un-immunised children in the world.
He called on the Nigerian Government to put measures in place to stem the tide, adding that there were huge challenges to the health sector “and having a strong system to respond is very important’’.
“We are quite concerned about the immunization system in Nigeria. The estimate of coverage was very high but not compared to disease outbreak.
“Nigeria has the highest number of un-immunised children in the world, an unenviable position initially held by India,’’ Berkley said.
He, however, commended the Federal Government for its commitment to eliminating polio, acknowledging that the work on polio had been strong.
He urged the government to do all within its power to ensure that polio was eradicated from the country.
While commending Nigeria for supporting the GAVI programme, he said that the country ranked among the lowest in the world in terms of funding the health sector.
According to Berkley, Nigeria is one of the lowest countries in the world with 0 to seven per cent of funding to the health sector but the world sector is 15 per cent.