The Executive Director of Project PINK BLUE – a Health & Psychological Trust Centre, Runcie C.W Chidebe, has urged the Federal Government and National Assembly to urgently move the over N1billion Cancer Health Fund from Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).
Chidebe made the call on Thursday, 28th of July 2022 in Abuja during the Health Financing Policy Dialogue organised by PharmAccess Foundation, a World Bank and the Nigeria Health Watch with the aim of exploring new health financing approaches in Nigeria.
Speaking during a second-panel session themed ‘Innovative mechanism for healthcare financing- earmarking taxes for health at National and sub-national levels’, Chidebe said the fund removal will ensure adequate deployment to the purpose it is meant for.
“what we have learnt from the Cancer Health Fund is that advocacy works and that the Federal Government listens to the people. However, implementing Cancer Health Funds has been marred with challenges. Firstly, this fund is not Federal Ministry of Health’s money, it is Nigerian cancer patients’ money and should never be used for the purchase of project vehicles. Secondly, the delay in the disbursement of this fund is absolutely shameful.
“Since 2020 and 2021, the Federal Government has appropriated over N1billion for the treatment of indigent Nigerian cancer patients and the Federal Ministry of Health was delaying disbursement. Sadly, when they were asked, their response was that they were waiting for President Muhammadu Buhari to launch the fund before it would be disbursed to indigent cancer patients”
“So, cancer patients would be waiting for Mr. President to launch a fund that he already appropriated and signed, while thousands of indigent cancer patients will be dying? It is a shame that we now have healthcare leaders who are more interested in serving their principals instead of serving the people. Cancer Health Funds should be moved from the Federal Ministry of Health to National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to ensure it is accessed quickly at the point of care,’’ Chidebe said.
In her remark, Njide Ndili, Country Director of PharmaAccess Foundation said, “with the BPHCPF, we already have a pathway for implementing some of the funds from the Sugar Sweetened Beverage (SSB) tax through state supported health care programme. We are hoping that this meeting will start a whole new conversation on health care financing in Nigeria”
The policy dialogue was attended by Mr Ben Akabueze, Director General of the Budget Office for the Federation; Senator Dr. Ibrahim Y. Oloriegbe, Chair Senate Committee on Health; Prof. Mohammed N. Sambo, Director General of National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), H.E. Dr Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, First Lady of Kebbi State/Founder of Medicaid Cancer Foundation and many other health leaders including development partners.