Ebonyi Health Cluster CSOs, Lawmakers, others Call for Improved Health Funding to Green The Reds

By Israel Mbam, Abakaliki

In continuation of their advocacy call for improved budgetary allocation and release of funds for the health sector in Ebonyi State, a Health Cluster CSOs over the weekend held a roadwork in Abakaliki the State capital. The road walk captioned Advocacy Campaign to Green the Red in budget performance in Ebonyi State was attended by y many Stakeholders in the State. These include seven Memebers of the State House of Assembly, SA to the Governor on Primary Health, Executive Secretary of the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency and Chairman of Nigeria Medical Association, NMA. Others were the representative of the Deputy Governor, other CSOs, the media, religious organizations among others.
Speaking shortly after the road walk, Chairman of Ebonyi State House of Assembly Committee on Health, Hon. Mrs Esther Agwu, said they  joined the road walk because of the importance of health in governance and in the society.

She commended the Green-the-Red CSO Cluster led by Development and Integrity Intervention Goal Foundation (DIG) for embarking on such people oriented advocacy, stressing that it has opened their eyes to some realities in budget implementation statistics in the State.

Hon. Mrs. Agwu noted that the administration of Governor Nwifuru has prioritized and repositioned the health sector in the State, and assured that they would continue to utilize their oversight mandate in working with the Executive arm of Government towards ensuring that the red spots in budget implementation statistics were turned green.

Also addressing participants of the road walk, Mr. Oliver Chima Aja, the Executive Director, DIG Foundation and leader of the Health CSOs Cluster, explained that the road walk was part of the their advocacy aimed at drumming support for enhanced health funding and release in the State. He explained that the health sector budget  performance analysis conducted by the Cluster with other CSOs, health workers and budget officials from relevant Ministries, as well as the Media identified some funding gaps and advocacy issues which if addressed would improve primary healthcare system and services in Ebonyi State.

"According to budget performance review conducted by the Green-the-Red Cluster, 100% of  capital budget for Ebonyi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Ebonyi State Hospital Management Board, School of health Technology  and School of Nursing and Midwifery in Ngbo and Uburu, respectively; Ebonyi State Health Insurance Agency and Ebonyi State Committee on Food and Nutrition were not released in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

"As at March 2024, most of them have also not received releases from their approved budget. This is worrisome as most of the capital budgets are meant to improve primary healthcare services."

He called on all health relevant MDAs and authorities to always prioritize the presentation of fundable memos for consideration during Exco meetings.

He also urged all approving authorities to always expedite actions on memos from Agencies responsible for advancing primary healthcare in the state, among other requests.

"We are calling on the Executive Governor to show more commitment to the health sector by ensuring the release of at least, 70% capital budget components as required by the Ministry of Health and other Agencies under health, for improved health service delivery in the State."

The Green-the-Red Cluster, led by Development and Integrity Intervention Goal Foundation (DIG) and five others is currently implementing a USAID-Palladium SCALE project, "Addressing Accountability and Budgetary Concerns for Sustainable Healthcare in Ebonyi state, ABC4SHE.

The excercise which started from International Conference Centre Abakaliki took the participants to major places within the town they were adorned in branded T-shirts and Caps with the inscription "Green-the-Red Health Sector Cluster"

Some of them also bear customized placards with various inscriptions such as "Health Sector Deserve Adequate Funding" "Support Campaign for improved health performance", among others.

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