By Abujah Racheal
Lagos – The Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi, says the state is committed to the Strengthening of COVID-19 pandemic, health security and equitable recovery funds.
Abayomi said this in Lagos on Friday when a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the Media paid him a visit on the state COVID-19 and Health Security scorecard.
The event was organised by the African Health Budget Network (AHBN).
The commissioner disclosed that the state now had an emergency preparedness budget line above its normal emergency response budget.
“It is a continuation of our COVID-19 response, it is a dedicated budget line that we have created for the 2022 and 2023 state budgets.
” Last year the state had about N3 billion for emergency response and for next year, the state had an equal amount, but that’s because it was generated.
“Apart from that, the government is now committing a vote of charge, whether or not the state ministry of health is generating income. We had that this year and we are also likely to have that in 2023,” he explained.
He said the vote of charge for the state for emergency preparedness in 2021 was about one billion Naira for public health emergencies and also N250 million for medical emergencies.
“ Apart from that, we had about three billion for dedicated response to COVID-19, which will be replicated for 2023. So we have money for COVID-19 in the state and other infectious disease outbreaks in the state,” he explained.
Abayomi said that the state also had its sustainability plan and also made it not a drain on the state budget.
“Lagos State does not see health as a constant drain on its budget; we approached it as a generation of income.
“So in Lagos State, we have 70 per cent of people go to the public healthcare centres while people who go to the private sector are just 30 per cent, so we are doing the same thing by partitioning response to emergencies,” he said.
The commissioner said the private sector should be able to manage some of the cases so that not everyone in the state would be coming to the public facilities.
“Not everybody is coming into the public sector where it’s always free, at least for COVID-19 when they go to the private sector, you know, no private sector will deliver services for free to you whether it is testing, or care or vaccination.
“But we are the regulators. So there’s a regulatory fee for us to ensure quality assurance.”
Muhammad Usman, Chairman of the National Advocates for Health, said the COVID-19 and health security accountability scorecard was developed through the adaptation of indicators from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Joint External Evaluation tool for Evaluation of International Health Regulation (IHR).
Usman said the second edition review of government documents included budget and presentations, review of COVID-19-related government online dashboards, advocacy/retreat meetings with relevant government agencies, CSOs, media and young people.
He said that the scorecard was developed to report CSOs’ review of Lagos state`s capacity for preparedness and response to health security and COVID-19.
“The scorecard serves as an evidence to be used by all stakeholders, including CSOs, professionals, media, advocates, young people and development partners.”
This will strategically influence actions that will mobilise resources, promote prudent spending, transparency and accountability of COVID-19 and health security fund.
Speaking, the Coordinator, AHBN, Dr Aminu Magashi, noted that the scorecard indicators were grouped into two main categories- prevention and response.
Magashi disclosed that the funding for the development, design and production of the scorecard was made available by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, through its COVID-19 Equitable Recovery Initiative.
Earlier, the coordinator called on the state to map out resources and establish health security and COVID-19 equitable recovery fund.
He advised the state on the importance of peer learning by also publishing the State Government’s 2021 and 2022 COVID-19 and Health Security expenditure report.
Magashi advocated for the availabilityof adequate COVID-19 vaccines in all the state`s vaccination centres aimed at increasing uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.
He, however, called on the state to strengthen collaborative efforts between legislators and CSOs for oversight of COVID-19 fund spending.