National Health Act: FG to ‘roll out’ Basic Health Care Provision Fund December – Health Minister

The federal government will “roll out” the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) this month, the health minister, Isaac Adewole, said in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday.

Mr Adewole said the roll out would start with six states, the first beneficiaries of the funds.

The states include Osun, Abia, Niger, Yobe, Borno, and Edo.

The minister said a comprehensive manual has been designed for adequate implementation of the funds. He said apart from the money added in the 2018 budget, the ministry have received about $22 million to fund the BHCPF.

“The Department for International Development (DFID) is also putting 50 million pounds over the next five years…” he added.

The Basic Health Care Provision Fund

The BHCPF is the fundamental funding provision under the National Health Act but was only appropriated this year for the first time since the Act was signed in 2014.

It provides for not less than one percent of the Consolidated Revenue for health funding.

When passing the 2018 budget in May, the National Assembly earmarked N55 billion for the BHCPF, as stipulated by the Act.

Though approved in the budget, the fund is yet to be released and it again restored the argument over non-implementation of the Act to the front burner.

Health experts decried the failure of the Nigerian government to release the fund.

They say failure to release the money was having a negative effect on health care delivery in the country, especially in the rural areas as it could have been handy in the revitalisation of primary health care centres. .

The fund is also envisaged to help reduce out of pocket spending on health care through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

In the interview, the health minister said even though the fund is very necessary, “What is most important is the instrument of implementing the management of the money in a way that it will be transparent. In a way that money will be put in and there will be confidence.”

Mr Adewole said the health ministry have developed a “123 pages manual for implementing the BHCPF.”

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“We have developed a 123 page manual. We cannot just release the money without proper planning because if we put the money in the states and there is no template for using it, people will say it wasted. The media will say BHCPF money was squandered.

“What we have done is that we went to the states and did thorough jobs. We are looking at the entire health system in each state and for the first time we will do the whole 36 states and the federal capital. We have done two for now and we are looking at how to do the remaining 34.

“The manual is a detailed assessment of the health system. It takes account of how many facilities a state is using because we just don’t want to share money. We want the money to flow from the central bank to the facilities. It should be first time that a PHC will get money directly from CBN.

“We now say for each state, give us the list of your needs, the PHCs you want to use. For example in Osun, 332 PHCs is benefiting. What is the condition of the 332 PHCs? How many can render 24 hours service? What do they lack in terms of Staff, equipment, commodities and all? We will have detailed account of all this before releasing the money.

“When you see the detailed manual we have developed, you will be amazed by the kind of work we have put in. We have developed that of Osun and Abia and now we are moving to Niger, Yobe, Borno and Edo next. Six states for the first roll out. If we don’t do this and you send money there, it will be wasted.

“How this money will be shared are all in the manual. We will publish it soon. There is no challenge in getting the money released as many have said. We have met with ministry of finance and last week we met with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to determine how this system will work. We told them we don’t want money to flow out laterally, we want money to flow down vertically.”

Further stressing the need for proper planning, Mr Adewole, a professor, noted that the N55 billion is not the only source of fund for the BHCPF.

“We are not dealing with the Nigerian naira provided in the budget alone. If you read the part of the act that made provisions for the BHCPF, you will see it is also talking about getting funds from local and international organisations and other sources.

“We already have 20 million dollars from Global Financing Facility on ground. We have two million dollars from Bill and Melinda gates Foundation. DFID (The Department for International Development) is putting 50 million pounds over the next five years. We are also meeting with the World Bank.

“There will be three accounts in CBN. The federal account will be for the consolidated revenue funds because we don’t want to mix funds with donor money.”

The minister also said once the BHCPF is flagged off for release, “money will flow from the CBN to NHIS to NPHCDA to NCDC. It will flow from the Federal Ministry of Health, then from there to the states and from the states, it goes to the facilities through commercial banks. We also asked them to open accounts in commercial banks. Part of the assessment is that they (state facilities and PHCs) have a bank account. If they do, who are the signatories?

“You need to see this manual. It’s the first of its kind. What we have designed have no equal anywhere in the world, where money will go straight to the facility. The national steering committee will approve it (the manual) on Thursday.

“President Buhari will official flag it off in December. You can quote me on this.”

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