Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, has reiterated federal government’s commitment to funding child spacing and the health sector as part of its strategic plan to improve human capital development and foster a productive citizenry.

The minister stated this when she hosted a delegation of the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria under the Partnership for Advocacy in family and child health at Scale, [email protected], in her office in Abuja.

She assured the delegation that her ministry will always prioritize the health sector’s funding, especially on issues bordering on the multilateral agreement and other commitments Nigeria has entered into.

While urging advocates also to improve their advocacy work around utilization and efficiency relating to funds released, she assured that Nigeria would continue to improve the health sector’s funding, as can be seen since the assumption of office of this current administration.

“Despite the failure to meet the 15 per cent commitment, Nigeria has progressively funded the health sector with incremental funding. She also noted that regardless of competing priorities, the federal government will prioritize funding for health and family planning therein,” she said.

The minister, however, noted that effective utilization of funds has remained an issue with MDAs, stating that with competing priorities, this will be an obstacle to incremental funding.

“The federal government is making moves to fulfill its commitment for the 1 per cent CRF. Still, the non-responsiveness at the state level to provide counterpart funding has slowed the process. MDAs are also showing low utilization capacity,” said Zainab.

She, therefore, noted that the federal government was taking innovative steps to improve fiscal transparency through Monitoring and Evaluation for budget tracking on an MDA-by-MDA level via the Budget Office of The Federation’s website, adding that the Accountant General’s office has also initiated a transparency monitor to show governments’ spending.

Earlier, the head of the delegation, Dr. Minnie Oseji, who is the president, Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria, briefed the minister on the association’s ongoing International conference and called on the federal government to support the funding of the health sector.

“From the 2017 and 2021 national budget, N6.8 billion has been allocated to family planning, out of which N3.6 billion was released. What was observed was that not all funds allocated were released, especially in 2017 and 2018, where 93% and 33% of the fund allocated were released, respectively. Also, the N809 million allocated in the 2021 fiscal year has not been released. Recall that the N900 million funding gap for 2019 was proposed to be released from the Service Wide Vote (SWV),” She added.

She, therefore, called for the release of allocations to enable the achievement of targets set by the administration under local and international bilateral and multilateral agreements.

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