The Special Adviser on Health to the President, Dr. Salma Ibrahim-Anas, Tuesday, disclosed that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has directed that 10 percent of the country’s budgetary allocation be given to the health sector.
Ibrahim-Anas, who spoke in Abuja at a one-day Gatefield Health Summit, said the president is still willing to increase the health sector budgetary allocation if properly utilized.
The Gatefield Health Summit was designed to advance healthcare financing through pro-health taxes.
She said: “Even before we advocate, though we need advocacies, and we don’t even need to advocate to Mr. President. He had said that he is going to increase allocation for health. It will start from 10% of the total budgetary allocation will go to the health sector, and that is just the beginning.
“Based on our demonstration of capacities to utilize, and an indication of accountability, he is going to increase more. And that is just the beginning. So, he has challenged us to do that to demonstrate those capacities and he’s ready to support and mobilise additional resources wherever they are’’.
The presidential aide, however, said the funds generated from the Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) taxes should be allocated to the health sector.
Also speaking, the Founder of Medicaid Foundation, Dr. Zanaib Bagudu, who expressed her disappointment that ‘the sugar tax’ was yet to be beneficial to the health sector, said the tax should be channeled to the sector to aid in the treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCD).
On his part, the Director-General, National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment, Dr. Usman Aliyu Malami, called for the proper management of the ‘sugar tax’, and urged that the Federal Ministry of Health be involved in the advocacy and management of the SSBs tax fund.
Presenting a policy presentation, the President, the Nigerian Cancer Society, Dr. Adamu Alhassan Umar, called for the increment of the current SSB taxes from 10 to 20 percent, and urged that the taxes should be accounted for and used to supplement the health budget.
Umar, who is also co-chair of the National Action on Sugar Reduction Coalition said: “Nigeria’s current tax on SSBs stands at about 6.7%, which is not an effective tax rate. The government must tax SSBs at a rate high enough to achieve optimum health impact.
“The revenue from SSB taxes should be accounted for and used towards supplementing the health budget and providing nutrition for poor and vulnerable Nigerians at risk of malnutrition. The use of the additional financing for health could be instrumental towards Nigeria’s Universal Health Coverage aspirations’’.