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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has expressed willingness to provide legislative backing to a special fund that will be deployed for handling emergency health outbreaks as in the case of ebola and other similar cases. Dogara said this when he received the Regional Director, Africa, of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Matsidiso Rebecca Moeti in Abuja on Tuesday.
This is just as the Speaker has assured that very soon, the results of the government’s effort at diversification of the economy will begin to yield results and more funds will be available to put into critical sectors such as that of health.
He said, “We had cause at the House of Representatives to engage ministers responsible; those who superintend over ministries and departments of government that their efforts could truly lead to diversifying our revenue and the intention is that we should hold them accountable or responsible for the standards they are setting for them to ensure that we improve income streams for government.
“Now, obviously when that effort begins to yield results there will be funds that we can set aside for the health sector. And we hope that in no distant time, that will be the outcome of ongoing efforts by all the arms of government especially the Executive and the Legislature.
“So if that one happens, we will be able to raise the budget but for now we have to make do with what is available”, he said.
Dogara assured that the House of Representatives is committed to the provision of basic health care delivery to all Nigerian, saying this will go a long way in reducing poverty among the poor in the country.
He also recalled that it is in line with this that the House waded into the proposed strike by resident doctors with a view that all lingering issues in the sector are resolved to bring stability to it.
Earlier, the Regional Director of the WHO expressed delight that the current government was giving priority to health to ensure socio-economic development of the country. Dr Moeti also commended the House for supporting the health agenda in the country and requested the lawmakers to sustain it.
She assured the legislators that WHO would provide technical support to the country’s agenda of Health development in universal health coverage and some priority projects of sustainable development.
The WHO Director particularly said the agency would assist the country in areas of child survival, reducing maternal death and addressing communicable diseases as well as addressing growing problems of non communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and hypertension in the continent.
She said though Nigeria had been declared polio free, there must be an increased and sustained surveillance by states and local government areas to achieve the eradication of the disease in the country and continent as a whole.
Moeti requested for the implementation of the National Health provision of one per cent of consolidated revenue funding for health which she said was vital for the realisation of the health agenda as well as the payment of counterpart funds for some of the global initiatives on health.
The director was accompanied by the Minister for Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and Minister for State, Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire.